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Croatia has dream start, panicky finish in a 1-0 victory over Austria at Euro 2008

Croatia has dream start, panicky finish in a 1-0 victory over Austria at Euro 2008

Croatia got its dream start at the European Championship on Sunday, almost exactly the way coach Slaven Bilic planned it.
A fourth-minute penalty converted by Luka Modric, and then tight control of the midfield that gave Austria very little space in the first half, helped the Croats to a 1-0 win over the Euro 2008 co-hosts in Group B.
In the second half, things changed. The defense seemed to panic and allowed too many free kicks near the danger zone.
"The early goal helped us a lot," Bilic said. "We controlled the first half flawlessly, but then withdrew to the defense too much. We gave the Austrians too many free kicks in the second half."
Croatia, considered an outside favorite to win the European title, next plays Germany in Group B, which also includes Poland.
"What is important is the win and the three points," Bilic said. "Now, our attention shifts to Germany."
Sunday's early lead gave the Croats some much-needed calm for the rest of the match, with their tactics clearly shifting to the defense and counterattacks.
"It was a very difficult match for us, especially in the second half," Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa said. "But the good start is always very important at these tournaments."
Ivica Olic, Croatia's top player in the match, was at the center of most of the striking action.
Also, the Tottenham-bound Modric combined with Niko Kranjcar, and veteran captain Niko Kovac fully exposed the best part of the Croatian squad _ the technically and physically superior midfield. The Croatian defense, considered a weaker part of the team, was solid in the first half, but as the match progressed it withdrew into its penalty area, allowing the Austrians several chances.
Central defender Josip Simunic controlled the heart of his penalty zone, out-jumping the Austrian strikers and clearing away most of the danger. He received a lot of support from Robert Kovac and Vedran Corluka, who controlled the defensive flanks.


Updated : 2020-12-04 20:07 GMT+08:00