SPLIT, Croatia (Reuters) – Croatia went top of World Cup qualifying Group H after attacking midfielder Mario Pasalic scored one goal and set up another in a 3-0 home win over neighbours Slovenia on Tuesday.

The result left Croatia on 13 points from six games, ahead of Russia on goal difference after the Russians ground out a 2-0 home win over Malta. Third-placed Slovakia have nine points after a 2-0 victory against visiting Cyprus.

Striker Marko Livaja fired Croatia ahead in the 33rd minute when he headed in a rebound from close range past stranded goalkeeper Jan Oblak after Pasalic had hit the post from Josip Juranovic’s cross.

Oblak twice denied Andrej Kramaric before Pasalic doubled Croatia’s lead with a 66th-minute tap-in after neat footwork and a fine low cross by Ivan Perisic left him with a simple task in front of an empty net.

Nikola Vlasic added the third deep into stoppage time as he met Mislav Orsic’s cross with a diving header to keep the 2018 World Cup runners-up on course to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)

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