ZAGREB (Reuters) – Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic grabbed hat-tricks as Croatia achieved a record win as an independent nation by demolishing San Marino 10-0 in their final Euro 2016 warm-up match in Rijeka on Saturday.
Thrashing the hapless part-timers meant the hosts surpassed 7-0 victories over Andorra in a Euro 2008 qualifier and Australia in a friendly in 1998.
“I want to congratulate the players for their commitment. They were poised and hungry to score as many goals as they could,” said coach Ante Cacic.
“The idea was to build a positive atmosphere ahead of Euro 2016 and we accomplished that. I am especially pleased with the strikers’ form because it’s paramount for their confidence to score goals.”
The visitors held out for 20 minutes before the floodgates opened and Croatia surged into a 6-0 halftime lead at the Rujevica Stadium.
Midfielder Luka Modric pulled the strings while captain Darijo Srna bagged three assists with darting runs down the right flank.
Although San Marino were little more than a punch bag for the home side and rarely got out of their own half, the goal bonanza will boost Croatia’s confidence ahead of Euro 2016 in France that starts next week.
Substitute Kalinic, who replaced Mandzukic in attack at halftime, struck three times in the second period. The other goals came from Srna, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Marko Pjaca.
“It was little more than a practice session but we took it very seriously,” said Perisic.
Croatia have been drawn in Group D alongside holders Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey.
Cacic’s squad open their campaign against the Turks in Paris on June 12. They meet the Czechs in St Etienne on June 17 and Spain in Bordeaux four days later.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Tony Jimenez)