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Croatia dented their hopes of qualifying automatically for the 2022 World Cup after a 2-2 home draw with Slovakia in their Group H clash on Monday left them trailing Russia by two points in a two-team race for the top spot.

The Russians, who have 19 points from eight games, beat Slovenia 2-1 away to leapfrog Croatia, who came from behind twice against the Slovakians and had a late goal scrapped after a VAR check.

Both Russia and 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia are assured of at least a play-off berth as third-placed Slovakia are on 10 points and have no chance of breaking into the top two.

Winger Ivan Schranz headed the Slovakians into a 20th-minute lead before Andrej Kramaric glanced in the equaliser five minutes later and the visitors struck again on the stroke of halftime through Lukas Haraslin.

Read Also: WCQ: Ivory Coast beat Malawi to leapfrog Cameroon

Croatia captain Luka Modric levelled with a 71st-minute free kick before substitute Nikola Vlasic was denied a winner in the 83rd as his close-range effort was ruled out for an infringement.

Croatia next visit Malta while Slovakia host Slovenia and Russia host Cyprus on Nov.11.

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