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Round-up: Kramaric completes Croatia comeback, Piatek rescues Poland

Round-up: Kramaric completes Croatia comeback, Piatek rescues Poland
By Reuters

21/03/2019 at 22:51Updated 21/03/2019 at 23:34

Croatia were forced to dig deep as they came from behind to beat unfancied Azerbaijan 2-1 at home in their opening Euro 2020 Group E qualifier after forward Andrej Kramaric scored a 79th winner on Thursday.

The Croatians dominated from the start at Maksimir stadium but the Azeris stunned the vocal home crowd when forward Ramil Sheydaev gave them a 19th-minute lead with a superb goal.

Duje Caleta-Car saw his header from a corner cleared off the line by Dmitri Nazarov but Borna Barisic was well placed to scramble home the equaliser from close range in the 44th.

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Salahat Agayev dealt with a flurry of crosses from either flank as the packed visiting defence came under relentless pressure but he could do nothing about Kramaric's sumptuous strike.

A ricochet off a defender fell kindly for the striker, who side-stepped his marker before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner from 15 metres to delight the home fans.

In the group's other fixture, Slovakia eased to a 2-0 home win against Hungary thanks to midfielder Ondrej Duda's first-half opener and Albert Rusnak's 85th-minute goal in Trnava.

On Sunday, Wales open their Group E campaign at home to Slovakia while Croatia visit Hungary.

Poland forward Krzysztof Piatek continued his prolific season by scoring 10 minutes after coming off the bench to secure a 1-0 win away to Austria.

The 23-year-old's goal, his second for his country, also gave Poland coach Jerzy Brzeczek his first win at the seventh attempt since taking over following last year's World Cup.

Piatek, Serie A's second highest scorer this season with 19 goals for Genoa and then AC Milan, headed in after 69 minutes as the hosts paid for their poor finishing in the Group G game.