World Cup teams Switzerland, Croatia draw 2-2
- Associated Press
- March 5, 2014 - 4:10 PM
ST. GALLEN, Switzerland — Switzerland's young forward Josip Drmic and Croatia veteran Ivica Olic both scored twice as their World Cup-bound countries drew 2-2 in a friendly on Wednesday.
Drmic, who has Croatian family roots, scored his first national team goals to give Switzerland two first-half leads, and ensure coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will want to take the 21-year-old player to Brazil in June.
The 34-year-old Olic, heading to his third World Cup, levelled in the 39th and 54th minutes past his Wolfsburg teammate Diego Benaglio in the Swiss goal.
Switzerland started its last match before Hitzfeld selects a 23-player squad in May with the central striker position seeming the most open in his preferred lineup.
"We have several strikers," Hitzfeld told Swiss broadcaster RTS, also suggesting Haris Seferovic and Mario Gavranovic. "The World Cup is three months away. Today a new alternative has come to us."
Drmic opened the scoring with his third chance in as any minutes when Switzerland raised the tempo after a tepid opening.
After Granit Xhaka's 30-meter (yard) shot in the 31st was parried by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner fired the ball across the goalmouth but Drmic and teammate Valentin Stocker failed to connect.
Drmic then was unmarked near the penalty spot but met Gokhan Inler's cross with a tame header at Subasic.
The Nuremberg forward dismissed his failures when seizing on indecision in Croatia's defense to slip past Vedran Corluka and shoot left-footed, low past Subasic diving to his left.
The Swiss defense was slack five minutes later, allowing a left-flank corner to find Olic alone with time to control and shoot from close range past Benaglio for the equalizer.
Drmic punished more poor defending in the 41st when Croatia's backline responded slowly to a long Swiss clearance, letting him advance and shoot past Subasic.
Olic responded again early in the second half, muscling past Lichtsteiner to reach a well-weighted pass with a left-foot shot inside the far post.
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric's entry as a substitute for Croatia in the 56th sparked a spell of domination by the visitors.
Croatia forward Eduardo, another substitute, dragged a right-foot shot wide of the far post in the 64th, and Bengalio dealt with a series of free kicks and crosses swung into the Swiss goalmouth.
Croatia opens the World Cup against the host nation on June 12 in Sao Paulo.
Switzerland begins against Ecuador in Brasilia three days later.
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