Sunday, 10 June 2012
Ireland 1-3 Croatia Full Highlights (Euro 2012 - Group C) All Goals & Highlights Video
The Republic of Ireland had yearned for a return to a grand tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup, but they fell behind in the second minute and, despite wholehearted effort, had to accept the superiority of Croatia. In view of encounters to come with Spain and Italy, the prospects have darkened. A result of this sort was cruel in its stern reminder of the challenges posed by an occasion of such importance.
There was a touch of altitude sickness in that early opener. The exasperation of the manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, could only be guessed at as Croatia took the lead with a disturbingly simple goal. Darijo Srna crossed from the right and a rather gentle header from Mario Mandzukic went past the goalkeeper, Shay Given.Everton striker Jelavic made it 2-1 just before the interval with a clever chipped finish after a sliced Ward clearance landed at his feet.
And the game was as good as over four minutes after the restart when a second Mandzukic header found the back off the net, this time via the head of the unlucky Given as the ball bounced back into play off the post.
The Irish regrouped and were denied what appeared a blatant penalty when Gordon Schildenfeld went through the back of Keane on the edge of the box.
However, even though the Republic's luck had deserted them, Croatia continued to look in control, technically superior and able to step up the pace if required.
They had chances to extend their lead, the best of which saw a fabulous sweeping move almost end with Ivan Rakitic firing just wide from 20 yards.
The Irish also had opportunities in the closing stages, but Keith Andrews screwed two shots wide and wasted a good headed chance.