Luka Modric smashed in the go-ahead goal for Croatia as they beat Scotland 3-1 in in Glasgow on Tuesday to secure second place in Group D.
Nikola Vlasic put Croatia in front just past the quarter-hour mark, firing home from the centre of the area after Ivan Perisic headed a cross back to him from the far post.
The goal drained the life out of Hampden Park and Scotland’s fortunes did not look like improving as Croatia stroked passes around the pitch, but just as the World Cup finalists seemed likely to turn the screw further, Steve Clarke’s side struck back.
Deprived of Billy Gilmour, who failed a COVID-19 test in the buildup, Scotland seemed lacking in midfield and Croatia bossed the ball, dominating possession for large periods before deservedly taking the lead after 17 minutes as Vlasic scored his sixth goal for his country.
However, Scotland drew level just before the break when a poor clearance by Croatia fell to the feet of Callum McGregor, who composed himself and struck a perfect low shot past Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic to make it 1-1 at half-time.
Croatia retook the lead in the 62nd minute when Mateo Kovacic laid the ball off at the top of the penalty area to Modric, who curled a lovely shot with the outside of his right foot outside of the reach of Scotland’s David Marshall.
Modric then teed up Perisic for Croatia’s third, with a flicked-on header doubling his team’s advantage and ending Scotland’s hopes of advancing to the round of 16.
The Czech Republic lost to Group D winners England at the same time, with the Three Lions winning the group and the Czechs still advancing as one of the best third-placed teams.
Croatia next face the runner-up of Group E — where Sweden, Slovakia, Spain and Poland are all still jockeying for position — in Copenhagen on June 28.
On a down note for the losers, Scotland’s dreadful run of never making the knockouts at a major tournament in 11 attempts continued.