Wales' World Cup qualifying hopes took another blow after a defensive mix-up set Croatia on their way to victory.
Croatia led when Mario Mandzukic charged down Lewis Price's kick, after Ashley Williams' underhit back-pass put the Wales goalkeeper under pressure.
Eduardo Da Silva doubled the lead from a yard after a rebound fell kindly.
Gareth Bale almost claimed a late consolation for the visitors, only to see Stipe Pletikosa save well, as Wales slipped to second bottom in Group A.
Wales had arrived in Osijek with their confidence buoyed by Friday's 2-1 win over Scotland in Cardiff.
Two goals from Bale, magnificent that night, had seen Wales come from behind and earn their first World Cup qualifying points after defeats to Belgium and Serbia.
That success also ended a six-game losing run and handed Chris Coleman his first success since taking over as Wales manager.
But despite the upturn in fortunes, the challenge facing Wales at the Gradski Stadium was a daunting one against a Croatia side unbeaten in this campaign - fresh from a 2-1 win in Macedonia.
Added to that was Croatia's incredible home record, having lost just once - to England in September 2008 - in 46 qualifying matches.
Wales arrived in Osijek without suspended Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey who was replaced by Leicester's Andy King.
Fifa 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A
Darijo Srna was the first to threaten the Wales goal, curling a free-kick past the defensive wall that had goalkeeper Price plunging low to his left to turn the ball around the post.
After Bale's match-winning display against the Scots, the winger was carefully watched by the Croat rearguard.
Instead, it was his former Tottenham team-mate among the Croatia line-up, Real Madrid's Luka Modric, who was starting to run the game.
The midfielder had a penalty claim turned away by referee Alexandru Dan Tudor after Darcy Blake bumped him on the shoulder, and he then sent a strong left-foot shot into Price's midriff.
A Mandzukic volley was also beaten away by the Wales keeper, before a horrendous defensive blunder gifted Croatia the lead.
Captain Williams hit a weak backpass - albeit not helped by a puddle of mud - that put Price under pressure, which the Crystal Palace keeper compounded by hitting his clearance into the pressurising Mandzukic.
The rebound fell nicely for the Bayern Munich attacker, who gleefully side-footed the ball into the net.
If that was the bad side of the third-choice Wales goalkeeper, playing because of injuries to Wayne Hennessey and Boaz Myhill, his good reactions soon after to deny Eduardo at point-blank range kept his side in the game.
Wales' goal threat in a one-sided first half was sporadic, with the best chance a Bale free-kick fisted away by Pletikosa after Dejan Lovren had shunted clumsily into the Spurs man.
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This was the first competitive match between Wales and Croatia, with the sides having played just two previous friendlies - a 1-1 draw in Varazdin in 2002 and a 2-0 win for Croatia in Osijek in 2010.
A Modric back-heel opened up the Wales defence soon after half-time and only Williams' alertness diverted Ivan Perisic's shot over the bar.
Price again saved Wales when Mandzukic seized on a long ball over the top, but from the resulting corner the home side doubled their lead.
Perisic's free header was well parried by Price, but the prone keeper could do nothing as Eduardo pounced on the rebound to stab home.
The Wales boss sent on Simon Church for the ineffectual Steve Morison and soon added a second striker in Sam Vokes, sacrificing King and his five-man midfield.
But the positive move merely gave Croatia more space to work in and Eduardo was unlucky not to grab his second goal with a header that crashed off the crossbar.
Bale, in brilliant solo mode once again, nearly set up a grandstand finish as he ran half the length of the field and nearly forced his shot under Pletikosa, before seeing the Rostov keeper save a well-struck free-kick.
Wales now have until next March to lick their wounds before what promises to be a spicy return match against Scotland.
- 01 Pletikosa
- 02 Strinic Booked
- 03 Simunic
- 04 Lovren Booked (Schildenfeld - 45' )
- 07 Rakitic
- 10 Modric
- 11 Srna
- 16 Badelj
- 20 Perisic (Vida - 85' )
- 17 Mandzukic
- 22 Eduardo (Kranjcar - 78' )
- 12 Kresic
- 23 Subasic
- 05 Corluka
- 06 Pamic
- 13 Schildenfeld
- 21 Vida
- 00 Kranjcar
- 08 Vukojevic
- 09 Sammir
- 18 Radosevic
- 14 Kalinic
- 15 Jelavic
- 01 Price
- 02 Gunter Booked
- 03 Davies
- 06 Williams
- 04 Vaughan
- 05 Blake
- 07 Allen
- 08 Ledley (Robson-Kanu - 82' )
- 10 King (Vokes - 72' )
- 11 Bale
- 09 Morison (Church - 61' )
- 24 Brown
- 25 fon Williams
- 14 Ricketts
- 20 Wilson
- 15 Edwards
- 16 Richards
- 18 Robson-Kanu
- 13 Davies
- 17 Church
- 19 Vokes
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.90:00 +3:07
Mario Mandzukic takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.90:00 +2:57
The ball is swung over by Simon Church, save made by Stipe Pletikosa.90:00 +1:31
Niko Kranjcar takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.90:00 +1:09
Hal Robson-Kanu crosses the ball, Josip Simunic manages to make a clearance.89:19
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sam Vokes by Josip Simunic. Shot comes in from Gareth Bale from the free kick, save made by Stipe Pletikosa.87:21
Effort on goal by Sam Vokes from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.86:49
Gareth Bale takes a shot. Save by Stipe Pletikosa.84:23 Substitution
Substitution (Croatia) makes a substitution, with Domagoj Vida coming on for Ivan Perisic.83:26
Effort from the edge of the penalty box by Ivan Perisic goes wide of the right-hand upright.81:56 Substitution
Substitution Hal Robson-Kanu joins the action as a substitute, replacing Joe Ledley.81:09
Luka Modric has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.80:11
Direct free kick taken by Darcy Blake.80:11 Booking
Booking Ivan Strinic goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.80:06
Ivan Strinic concedes a free kick for a foul on Simon Church.79:18
Sam Vokes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gordon Schildenfeld. Stipe Pletikosa takes the direct free kick.77:03 Substitution
Substitution Niko Kranjcar replaces Da Silva Eduardo.76:16
Inswinging corner taken by Joe Allen, save by Stipe Pletikosa.75:08
Darijo Srna crosses the ball, Mario Mandzukic takes a shot. Lewis Price makes a save.74:14
Ivan Rakitic takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Blocked by Ben Davies.71:47 Substitution
Substitution Sam Vokes on for Andy King.71:31
Joe Allen crosses the ball, clearance made by Gordon Schildenfeld.69:14
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ivan Rakitic on Ben Davies. Free kick taken by Ben Davies.68:11
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mario Mandzukic by Ashley Williams. Luka Modric takes the direct free kick.67:50
Joe Ledley challenges Ivan Strinic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stipe Pletikosa.66:27
Inswinging corner taken by Joe Allen from the left by-line, Andy King takes a shot. Save by Stipe Pletikosa.65:28
Luka Modric produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.64:08
Darijo Srna takes a shot. Ben Davies gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Darijo Srna from the right by-line, Ashley Williams manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ivan Rakitic from the left by-line.63:51
Ivan Strinic delivers the ball.62:41
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Save made by Lewis Price.60:26 Substitution
Substitution Simon Church replaces Steve Morison.57:22
The assist for the goal came from Darijo Srna.57:22 Goal scored
Goal! - Da Silva Eduardo - Croatia 2 - 0 Wales Da Silva Eduardo gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Croatia 2-0 Wales.57:07
Outswinging corner taken by Darijo Srna,56:40
Mario Mandzukic takes a shot. Lewis Price makes a save.55:55
Unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Ivan Strinic results in a free kick. Gareth Bale takes the free kick.55:22
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Blocked by Ashley Williams.54:26
Shot from 20 yards by Ivan Perisic. Save by Lewis Price. Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Ben Davies gets a block in.51:27
Strike comes in from Darijo Srna from the free kick. Shot from just outside the area by Darijo Srna misses to the left of the target.51:27 Booking
Booking Chris Gunter receives a yellow card.51:24
Foul by Chris Gunter on Ivan Perisic, free kick awarded.50:15
Corner taken by Ivan Rakitic played to the near post, Header from close in by Ivan Perisic misses to the left of the goal.47:18
Unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Ivan Perisic results in a free kick. Centre by Chris Gunter, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Ashley Williams misses to the right of the goal.46:49
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Ivan Rakitic, clearance by Steve Morison.46:07
Ivan Rakitic fouled by Joe Allen, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Ivan Perisic.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:00 Substitution
Substitution Dejan Lovren goes off and Gordon Schildenfeld comes on.44:41 Half time
Half Time The first half comes to an end.43:37
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.41:42
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Joe Allen by Da Silva Eduardo. Ashley Williams takes the free kick.40:32
Mario Mandzukic takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.38:36
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.38:08
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Darijo Srna, clearance by Steve Morison.37:36
Ashley Williams challenges Mario Mandzukic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Luka Modric restarts play with the free kick.36:46
The referee blows for offside. Lewis Price takes the free kick.35:36
Mario Mandzukic sends in a cross, clearance made by Ashley Williams.34:05
Shot from just outside the box by Ivan Perisic misses to the right of the target.32:55
Unfair challenge on Steve Morison by Josip Simunic results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Gareth Bale, Josip Simunic makes a clearance.30:20
The ball is crossed by Ivan Strinic.26:35 Goal scored
Goal! - Mario Mandzukic - Croatia 1 - 0 Wales Mario Mandzukic finds the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Croatia 1-0 Wales.25:26
Ivan Rakitic sends in a cross, Ben Davies makes a clearance. Corner taken by Darijo Srna from the right by-line, clearance made by Ashley Williams.24:14
The free kick is delivered left-footed by Gareth Bale from right wing, save by Stipe Pletikosa.24:14 Booking
Booking Dejan Lovren is cautioned.23:39
Dejan Lovren concedes a free kick for a foul on Gareth Bale.23:06
Milan Badelj takes a shot. Save by Lewis Price.20:04
Short corner taken by Darijo Srna from the right by-line.18:54
Gareth Bale produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.18:07
Ivan Perisic delivers the ball, save by Lewis Price.17:48
Ivan Strinic sends in a cross, Chris Gunter makes a clearance.16:42
The ball is crossed by Ivan Perisic, save by Lewis Price.15:57
Ivan Rakitic takes a shot. Lewis Price makes a save.15:42
Ivan Perisic delivers the ball, clearance made by Ben Davies.13:57
Foul by Ivan Perisic on Gareth Bale, free kick awarded. Lewis Price takes the direct free kick.8:22
Darijo Srna fouled by David Vaughan, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Darijo Srna from the free kick, save made by Lewis Price. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Darijo Srna from the right by-line, Ashley Williams makes a clearance.6:10
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Lewis Price makes a save.5:41
Da Silva Eduardo takes a shot. Blocked by Chris Gunter.4:53
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ivan Rakitic, clearance by Ashley Williams.4:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ben Davies on Darijo Srna. Ivan Rakitic delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance made by Ashley Williams.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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