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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Croatia's road to the finals
Bosko Balaban of Croatia and Aston Villa is tackled by Scotland's Paul Lambert
Balaban's goals brought him to Villa's attention
BBC Sport Online looks at how Croatia reached their second World Cup finals.

A number of players plying their trade in the English leagues played crucial parts in helping Croatia make it to their second successive World Cup tournament.

Aston Villa's Bosko Balaban scored five, Middlesbrough's Alen Boksic grabbed two vital strikes, and Robert Prosinecki of Portsmouth also chipped in with a brace.

Robert Prosinecki of Croatia and Portsmouth
Prosinecki's qualities have been recognised in Britain

Once you add to that the one goal scored by former Arsenal and West Ham star Davor Suker, you find that 10 of the 15 goals scored by Croatia came from stars who have played in England.

Despite such an apparently healthy array of attacking outlets, Croatia still failed to ensure qualification until the final game of the group.

They were able to remain undefeated during eight games, but they struggled against Scotland who twice held them to draws.

Qualifying campaign
D 0-0 Belgium (a)
D 1-1 Scotland (h)
W 4-1 Latvia (h)
W 4-0 San Marino (h)
W 1-0 Latvia (a)
D 0-0 Scotland (a)
W 4-0 San Marino (a)
W 1-0 Belgium (h)

Croatia could not get the better of Craig Brown's Scots - but they did show how mean their defence can be.

Kevin Gallagher's goal in Zagreb was one of only two scored against Croatia in eight games, the other managed by lowly Latvia.

Wins over Latvia and San Marino, home and away, brought Croatia to a winner-takes-all showdown with Belgium in Zagreb.

And it was veteran Boksic who scored the goal that confirmed the presence of Croatia in Japan.

That win meant that Mirko Jozik's side avoided a potentially tricky two-legged play-off with the much-fancied Czech Republic.

Belgium instead were forced to take on that task, but came through it unscathed to also take their place at the World Cup.

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