Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic struck from the penalty spot as Croatia prevailed 1-0 against Mexico in their international friendly on Tuesday.
Croatia were without a host of stars, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Mario Mandzukic, Nikola Kalinic and Marcelo Brozovic returning to Europe following last week's 2-0 loss to Peru in Miami.
But Croatia were still too good for fellow World Cup participants Mexico in Texas, where Rakitic converted a 62nd-minute penalty at AT&T Stadium.
Miguel Layun was the hero against Iceland, his brace inspiring a 3-0 victory for Mexico, however, his wild challenge after coming off the bench paved the way for Rakitic to end the country's run of three consecutive wins and clean sheets.
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio – known for his rotation – made a host of changes. Layun was one of eight changes as the likes of Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela returned to the line-up.
Despite the absence of their star quintet, Croatia still boasted Rakitic, Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic and Hoffenheim star Andrej Kramaric.
And the Croatians troubled Mexico after a slow start in Texas, the counter-attack and their width proving difficult to handle.
The first sign of danger was when Mexico – playing with a three-man defence – were caught out on the counter in the 12th minute but Kramaric was unable to steer his curling effort inside the post.
That rattled the Mexicans, with Croatia's wide players continuing to enjoy success against their opponent's shaky defence.
Mexico were dealt a blow during that period when Nestor Araujo was carried off the field on a stretcher – the defender's night lasting just 16 minutes.
The Mexicans managed to nullify Croatia's width as the half wore on, though neither side managed to create any clear-cut chances.
Mexico reverted to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half and it steadied proceedings after Osorio introduced the likes of Layun at full-back.
However, Layun – flying high after his brace against Iceland – was the culprit as he conceded the penalty which allowed Croatia to take the lead just past the hour.
Layun produced a rash challenge inside the area, bringing down fellow substitute Tin Jedvaj and Rakitic made no mistake from the spot, coolly finishing low past Guillermo Ochoa.
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