SALVADOR, Brazil: Nikica Jelavic gave Croatia a 1-0 win over Australia in a warm-up game on Friday ahead of their World Cup opener against hosts Brazil next week.
The Hull City striker broke the deadlock in the 58th minute after he benefited from a deflected ball and slotted home unmarked in the penalty area.
Jelavic’s goal came after delightful interplay between Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric and Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic on the fringe of the penalty area.
Modric was brought off moments later by manager Niko Kovac unscathed ahead of Croatia’s opening Group A match with Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12.
But Croatia may have lost their left-back Danijel Pranjic with an ankle injury midway through the first half.
The Panathinaikos wide player appeared to roll his left ankle in a challenge from Australian right-back Ivan Franjic and went down in pain to be stretchered from the field and out of the game.
The 18th-ranked Croatians took time to settle against the robust Socceroos but took control of the friendly in the second half, dominating possession with their precise intricate passing.
The Australians, chasing their first win in 14 attempts in South America, had their best period of the game early on with New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill putting himself about.
Skipper Mile Jedinak put in 74 minutes in his first run since a groin injury playing for Crystal Palace in the final day of the English Premier League season.
But the 62nd-rated Socceroos, the lowest ranked team at the World Cup, tailed off in the second half and rarely threatened as Croatia began to take charge and got themselves into a passing rhythm.
Mark Bresciano came on for Cahill with 24 minutes left and showed his composure and experience on the ball which the Australians will need in their daunting first Group B game against Chile in Cuiaba on June 13.
Meanwhile, Midfielder Edgar Salli scored the only goal as Cameroon completed their World Cup warm-up programme with a 1-0 win over Moldova in front of their home fans in Yaounde on Saturday.
The narrow margin of victory failed to reflect the dominance of the home side who also hit the post in the first half through Achille Webo.
Salli’s goal came on the half-hour mark. It was the second win in four preparatory games for the Indomitable Lions, who depart on Sunday for the tournament in Brazil, where they will compete in Group A against the host nation, Croatia and Mexico. AGENCIES