Peru 2-0 Croatia
23 March 2018
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
Scorers: Carillo, Flores
Reigning Unofficial Football World Champions Peru retained their title and served a notice of intent ahead of the World Cup finals in this warm-up match against European qualifiers Croatia, played in the US, at the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins. Peru completely dominated against a strong Croatia side, and comfortably won 2-0, despite being reduced to ten men in the second half. André Carrillo and Edison Flores scored the goals. Next up for Peru is a match against Iceland, on Tuesday, in New Jersey.
In the absence of suspended captain and record goalscorer Paolo Guerrero, Peru had Watford striker Carrillo and Jefferson Farfán up front, and Flores, Christian Cueva, Renato Tapia and Yoshimar Yotún – who plays his club football in Florida for Orlando City – in midfield. Luis Advíncula, Christian Ramos, Anderson Santamaría and Miguel Trauco played at the back, with Carlos Cáceda in goal in place of the injured Pedro Gallese. Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren was also missing due to injury.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic selected his strongest available side, with captain Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mario Mandžukić supporting striker Nikola Kalinić, but it wasn’t enough to beat the unofficial champions.
Peru opened the scoring in the 12th minute, when Carillo’s deflected strike from the edge of the penalty area beat Croatia keeper Subasic, and TV viewers once again heard the Peruvian commentator yell “Gol Coca-Cola!” for reasons we have yet to identify.
Croatia did have the ball in the net in the first half, but the strike was ruled out for a foul. Other than that, Peru dominated the game, with the likes of Modric and Rakitic overpowered.
The second goal came in the 49th minute, when 33-year-old veteran Farfan raced away from the Croatian defence, and hit a cross-shot against the keeper, with the ball falling for Flores to make it 2-0.
Peru played the last 15 minutes with only ten men, after Orlando City’s Yotún was shown a second yellow card. Croatia applied pressure, but were unable to score, which will worry their fans ahead of the World Cup. Peru, though, continued to look impressive, and UFWC followers who beat the bookies with a 5/1 bet on the outsiders in this match will have reason to celebrate.
This was Peru’s 11th UFWC title match win, and it moves them up to 18th in the all-time UFWC rankings.
The next UFWC title match is this Tuesday, 27 March 2018, when Peru will play Iceland, at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Iceland, like Croatia, have never won a UFWC title match. They’ve played in seven, losing six and drawing one. Their most recent title match was a defeat to Chile in January 2017. Kick-off time is 20:00 on 27 March local time, which is 01:00 on 28 March in the UK.
Note that Peru v Croatia kicked off at 20:00 on 23 March in Miami, which was 00:00 (midnight) on 24 March in the UK.
New for 2018, the latest edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions by Paul Brown, is out now. This is the fourth edition of the book that has been published in every World Cup year since 2006.
Expanded and updated to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, it’s a complete guide to the UFWC, including all 936 title matches played since 1872, and all 48 unofficial football world champions.
It’s available exclusively from Amazon stores worldwide, priced at £9.99 or $13.95 – click here.