But the match was refreshingly exciting.
Despite being without Mario Mandzukic, who was only fit enough for a seat on the bench due to a hamstring strain, the hosts cruised to victory on a cold night in Zagreb, putting them within touching distance of a place at the finals in Russian Federation next year.
The hosts raced into a two-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes thanks to strikes from Luka Modric and Nikola Kalinic. The Croats won six out of ten matches and did not lose at home.
Just minutes later, fancy footwork and a stellar cross from Ivan Strinić found the boot of Kalinić, giving Croatia a 2:0 lead in the 19th minute.
Croatia go into the opener unbeaten in their last 11 competitive home games and winger Perisic is determined to build on that record.
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The Croatian defense was caught in the back, and after Vida saved what would have been a clear goal, Greece capitalized on the corner kick given, and Papastathopoulos scored for 2:1. The fourth goal came early in the second half.
However the relief only lasted for four minutes, as on the 34th Sime Vrsaljko spread from the right, the Greek defense appeared absent, and incoming Perisic nodded the ball home from close range, in a play that stood out for its speed and precision.
Greece almost got a goal in the 90th minute but as it stands they'll need to score at least three goals in the return leg on Sunday in Athens to reach the 2018 World Cup.
Croatia were on course to qualify automatically with three games remaining in Group I but a surprise defeat to Turkey and a draw with Finland allowed Iceland to nip ahead.
"This was one of my biggest matches in national team", he said.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric echoed his manager and wants his side to stay on the front foot in the second leg.