Even without Gilmour in their ranks, it was Scotland who did much of the early running in front of their own fans, forcing several corners and a couple of saves from Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. They didn’t make it count, though, and just after the 15-minute mark the visitors took the lead.
It came at the end of a long period of possession, with Kovacic heavily involved, before Josip Juranovic’s cross was headed down by Ivan Perisic and Nikola Vlasic swept the ball into the back of the net from near the penalty spot.
They nearly extended their lead soon afterwards when Kovacic did well to recover a loose ball on the edge of the box and lay off the ball for Luka Modric, but the Real Madrid midfielder’s shot was tipped over the crossbar by Scottish keeper David Marshall.
With their lead secured, Croatia relaxed and Kovacic, Modric and Marcelo Brozovic started to dictate the game from midfield. However, before half-time the scores were level again. Centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida both failed to clear convincingly, allowing Callum McGregor to collect the ball on the edge of the box and fire a powerful shot into the bottom corner.