MINSK - Two goals from Ivica Olic helped Croatia strengthen their World Cup qualifying claims with a 3-1 win over Belarus on Wednesday. Olic nodded in from a Niko Kranjcar corner to give Croatia the lead midway through the first half of a key Group Six contest. Croatia continued to dominate and doubled their lead when Eduardo da Silva took a pass from Darijo Srna and fired the ball in. Belarus gave themselves hope with a goal by Dimitry Verkhotsov in the 81st minute, but Olic scored again from a counter attack two minutes later. Croatia are second in Group Six with 14 points from seven games, seven behind England, who are firmly on course to win the group and take the direct qualification place for South Africa next year. Belarus are fourth with nine points from six matches. The eight best group runners-up go through to a play-off and Croatia coach Slaven Bilic was overjoyed with the result and particularly the second-half performance. "The players were elated, which shows how much pressure they were under to win this game," Bilic said. "I'd say that the second half was perhaps one of the best 45 minutes these players have ever played."
12 August 2009
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