Croatia edged Malta 1-0 on Tuesday evening and moved into second place in Group H to qualify automatically for Euro 2016.
Ivan Perisic struck in the 25th minute in Ta' Qali for the victory which, coupled with Italy's 2-1 win over Norway, ensured the Croatians a runners-up finish in the pool.
Croatia, who went into the encounter on the back of a 3-0 triumph over Bulgaria, ended up one point clear of Norway and four points adrift of group winners Italy.
The Norwegians must now win a play-off in November to reach next year's tournament in France.
Malta, who had not won in 23 competitive home matches, finished bottom of the pool and without a victory.
The visitors dominated possession and took a deserved lead when Perisic, who had scored once and set up another goal against Bulgaria, got behind a loose ball inside the Malta area and hit a powerful right-footed effort to beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
The Maltese had just one shot on goal in the encounter and it came one minute after the re-start as Clayton Failla found space just outside the area and drilled a left-footed shot that was kept out by Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic.
Perisic came close to extending Croatia's lead just before the hour. Ivan Rakitic set him up in the box but Perisic's right-footed shot towards the near post was saved by Hogg.
The visitors held on for a win and as news arrived that Italy had come from behind to beat Norway, Croatia celebrated on the pitch.