sport

Peresic brace sees off Mali

Ivan Perisic scored a goal in each half as Croatia beat Mali 2-1 in their final home friendly before the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Perisic opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark and added a second just after the hour before Fantamady Diarra replied for Mali.

Wolfsburg winger Perisic latched on to Ivan Rakitic's defence-splitting pass on 15 minutes to give Croatia the lead by curling his shot into the top corner.

Rakitic was the architect of the second goal after half-time when his corner was headed down by Ivica Olic and Perisic was on hand to score.

"It was a good test against a physical opponent while our legs were a bit heavy after three weeks of hard training in the build-up," Perisic told Croatian television.

Croatia coach Niko Kovac added: "We are happy with the result and commitment given that there are some weary legs out there.

"The first goal is exactly the kind of attacking we are looking for, a direct through ball leaving the scorer with a sitter.

"The movement of the ball wasn't quite as sharp as we would have liked but there is still enough time to add the finishing touches."

Croatia next face Australia in Salvador on Friday before kicking off the World Cup against hosts Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12.