Luka Modric was relieved his 150th cap was not marked with a loss against a familiar foe, following Croatia’s 1-1 draw with France in Split on Monday.
The home side equalised in the 83rd minute via Andrej Kramaric, who sent Mike Maignan the wrong way from the penalty spot, following Adrien Rabiot’s goal in transition in the 52nd.
Following a disappointing second-half in their opening Nations League defeat to Austria, Croatia finished the stronger of the two teams following the introductions of Nikola Vlasic and Luka Sucic.
With the Vatreni having never beaten France at senior international level.
Including World Cup final and semi-final defeats, Modric was thankful his side could salvage a draw.
Modric said after the game:
“Irrespective of the result, thank God we didn’t lose.
“But we can be content with the performance we displayed. We played well, compactly, bravely and that’s what we were after.
“I think the players who came in gave us a new energy. They gave us a freshness and aggression, and in the end we scored, we can be pleased as a result. And if we scored with [Ante] Budimir’s chance in the first half, the match might have gone in a different direction.
“Then again, we showed we can hold our own against France, for whoever you put in that team, they’re always going to be competent, with enough players for three teams.”
Playing in his native Dalmatia, Modric became the first player to ever receive 150 caps for Croatia on Monday, following their readmission as a nation by FIFA in 1992.
Also receiving a gift from the France team pre-match to mark the occasion, the 36-year-old was dignified in response.
“This is a phenomenal feeling,” he said post-match. “I’m happy and proud that I was able to reach this achievement with Croatia. I really didn’t expect this, but there you go, I’m very proud and happy to have done so.
“Thanks to the crowd for their reception. It’s enough to make your hairs stand up. Thanks to them for that, and to the French and Deschamps for their gift. I didn’t expect that either but it was a beautiful gesture from them.”
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