Croatia's strength told as they earned a 3-1 victory against a willing Malta side to keep the pressure on Greece at the top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F.
Goals from Ognjen Vukojević, Milan Badelj and Dejan Lovren did the damage for Slaven Bilić's side, but Michael Mifsud scored to give Malta a lift before the break. John Buttigieg's men remain without a point in the section, while Croatia will look to strengthen their position further when they take on third-ranked Israel at home on Tuesday.
Vukojević struck in the 11th minute and it was 2-0 just after the half-hour mark as Badelj drilled a fine effort past Andrew Hogg in the Malta goal. However, Malta captain Mifsud once more showed his predatory instincts, firing past Stipe Pletikosa from inside the box seven minutes before the break to keep the home side in the hunt.
A comeback, however, was not on, and with Malta's defence at sixes and sevens, Lovren took full advantage, making it 3-1 on 68 minutes. Croatia remain within a point of section leaders Greece, while Malta hope their luck will finally change as they take on Georgia in their next fixture.