Croatia are on the verge of qualifying for next year’s European Championships after beating Latvia 2-0 on Saturday as their closest rival Wales dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Armenia.
Early goals from Lovro Majer and Andrej Kramaric gave Croatia a comfortable victory at last-place Latvia in Riga.
Croatia will secure a qualifying spot on Tuesday with a win over Armenia in their final game, or if Wales fail to beat Group D leaders Turkey.
Wales’ players started the day knowing that winning their final two games would ensure qualification but trailed after just five minutes. Lucas Zelarayan put Armenia ahead with a shot from the edge of the penalty area after Wales failed to clear a corner.
Wales went into half-time level following Nair Tiknizyan’s own-goal but created little in the second half as Armenia looked the more likely team to win.
Only two of Armenia’s 19 shots were on target, though, and the draw meant their slim chances of qualifying were ended when Croatia won their game.
Wales previously won one of their games with World Cup semi-finalist Croatia and drew the other but a 4-2 loss at home to Armenia in March was costly.
Elsewhere, Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as France hammered Gibraltar 14-0 to record the biggest-ever victory in European Championship qualifying.
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score twice as Les Bleus broke the 13-0 record set by Germany against San Marino in 2006 for Euro 2008 qualifying.
Teenage midfielder Warren Zare-Emery became France’s youngest goal scorer on his international debut and then went off injured against a Gibraltar side that played most of the match with 10 players after Ethan Santos was sent off in the 18th minute having scored an own-goal.
Kingsley Coman scored twice as Marcus Thuram, Warren Zaire-Emery, Jonathan Clauss, Youssouf Fofana, Adrien Rabiot and Ousmane Dembele also all netted.
France’s biggest previous win was 10-0 against Azerbaijan in a European qualifying game in 1995.
Romania came from behind to beat Israel 2-1 and finish top of Group I with Switzerland having to settle for second after Kosovo netted a late equaliser to draw 1-1.
Elsewhere in Group I, Belarus beat reck-bottom Andorra 1-0.
Netherlands secured their spot at Euro 2024 with a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland.