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Modric scores early penalty to give Croatia 1-0 win over Austria at Euro 2008

Modric scores early penalty to give Croatia 1-0 win over Austria at Euro 2008

Luka Modric scored from the penalty spot Sunday to give Croatia a 1-0 win over co-host Austria at the European Championship.
Modric put his team ahead in the fourth minute of the Group B match after Rene Aufhauser brought down Ivica Olic in the area. Modric and Olic combined down the left wing from a throw-in and took the ball into the box before Aufhauser ran across and knocked down Olic as he went past. Dutch referee Pieter Vink awarded the penalty and Austria defender Emanuel Pogatetz was then given a yellow card for protesting.
With goalkeeper Juergen Macho diving to his right, Modric sent the ball low and into the middle of the net.
"The early goal helped us a lot," Croatia coach Slaven 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."
Modric's goal lifted Croatia and Austria struggled to contain the deft interplay in central midfield between Modric and captain Niko Kovac, with Darijo Srna down the right flank the main recipient of their wide passes.
Srna tormented Austria's three-man defense once Modric, in particular, had threaded the ball through the opposing five-man midfield. Olic also caused problems up front, drifting across the field to stretch the defense.
Playing in front of a 54,000 fans at Ernst Happel Stadium, Austria lifted the intensity of its challenges and started to receive more possession, but Croatia kept its shape to ensure the hosts took only long-range shots. The hosts dominated late, but Croatia was able to hold on for the win.
"This is the worst possible start you can have in an opening game of a tournament," Austria coach Josef Hickersberger said. "After four minutes, we conceded a goal and we took some time to recover. For the first 30 minutes, the team wasn't playing well, we were nervous. But after that, we followed our tactical plan and we did it well. We even dominated the second half."
Juergen Saemuel sent a 25-meter (yard) shot straight to Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, while Sebastian Proedl couldn't keep his 35-meter (ayrd) shot from flying over the crossbar midway through the first half.
Austria had more success as the first half wore on and when the ball was shifted to the flanks, where left midfielder Ronald Gercaliu and defender Joachim Standfest sent in crosses that troubled Pletikosa.
Austria had a chance to score in the 40th when Aufhauser put the ball in behind left back Danijel Pranjic and Martin Harnik crossed across the face of goal to try and find Saemuel but Pletikosa intercepted.
The second half was the exact opposite of the first.
Austria continuously outflanked Croatia down each wing as the game became more and more stretched with the host team appearing to possess the greater stamina, while Croatia was reduced to eking out the odd chance.
"It was a very difficult match for us, especially in the second half," Pletikosa said. "But the good start is always very important at these tournaments."
Modric had a chance when he stole the ball from an unsuspecting defender and dribbled into the box, but Pogatetz was able to head the deft chip away and the ball was soon traveling upfield into Croatia's half.
Responding to the partisan roars of the crowd, Austria kept sending in crosses and Pletikosa didn't look comfortable dealing with them as Ivica Vastic and Roman Kienast came on for Austria. Umit Korkmaz had a long-range attempt in the 86th but Pletikosa palmed the ball away, and with it Austria's chances.
Austria will next face Poland while Croatia takes on Germany.
"The team is very depressed," Hickersberger said. "The team showed during the second half that they could cope with the Croats _ even win the match. But we are empty handed, so of course they are depressed. Do I have to lift the team (to play Poland)? I do and I will."
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Lineups:
Austria: Juergen Macho, Joachim Standfest, Martin Stranzl, Emanuel Pogatetz, Rene Aufhauser, Roland Linz (Roman Kienast, 73), Andreas Ivanschitz, Ronald Gercaliu (Umit Korkmaz, 69), Sebastian Proedl, Juergen Saemuel (Ivica Vastic, 61), Martin Harnik.
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Danijel Pranjic, Josip Simunic, Robert Kovac, Vedran Corluka, Niko Kovac, Darijo Srna, Luka Modric, Ivica Olic (Ognjen Vukojevic, 89), Niko Kranjkar (Dario Knezevic, 62), Mladen Petric (Igor Budan, 72).


Updated : 2021-05-07 00:41 GMT+08:00