- match commentary
- European Championship Finals
- 10 June 2012, 7:45pm
- Stadion Miejski (Poznan)
|Rep of Ireland||v||Croatia|
Croatia went top of Group C after a ruthless 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland, who now face a monumental task to qualify for the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
The Republic's return to the big stage after a 10-year absence fell flat on the field in Poznan. Ireland fans were in full voice and enjoying their country's first tournament since 2002 but goals from Mario Mandzukica and Nikica Jelavic as well as a Shay Given own goal were enough for Croatia to claim the points.
The consensus before the match was that Ireland needed to make a strong start if they were to get anything from the game, so things looked bleak when their opponents took the lead within three minutes. Mandzukic's header from Darijo Srna's deflected cut back appeared to wrong-foot Shay Given and was allowed to loop into the bottom corner of the net. For a team that had kept 11 clean sheets from 14 games prior to this tournament and is set up to contain the opposition, Ireland could have been forgiven for being rattled.
But their response was impressive with Kevin Doyle competing well up front to win a series of free-kicks. It was from one such opportunity that Giovanni Trapattoni's men levelled it up before the 20 minute mark. Aiden McGeady whipped the ball in from the left and Sean St Ledger succeeded in eluding Vedran Corluka at the far post to nod home via his own shoulder. Thereafter Ireland continue to surrender possession with Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews playing extraordinarily deep in midfield, seemingly happy to invite Luka Modric on to them.
It was working until just before half-time. Stephen Ward horribly miskicked an attempted clearance after a ricochet on the edge of the box, only managing to skew the ball to Jelavic who lofted the ball over Given. And any hopes that Ireland could use the interval to regroup were gone when Mandzukic's header came back off the post only to bounce back off Given and into the net to put Croatia 3-1 up. Trapattoni made changes by introducing Jonathan Walters, Simon Cox and Shane Long but there was little in the way of invention and, for all the Irish efforts, Slaven Bilic's side were able to see the game out.
FULL-TIME:The Irish make a losing start to their Group C campaign. It didn't quite click for Trapattoni's side in Poznan against a strong Croatia team who have run out convincing winners. With matches to come against Spain and Italy, the Republic's quarter-final hopes already look very bleak. Thanks for following our coverage.
90+5 mins:Late shot by Andrews, who has had about five or six efforts on goal in the last 20 minutes, but he still can't hit the target as he flashes this one wide from 20 yards.
90+3 mins:Croatia make their final change as Dujmovic replaces the impressive Rakitic.
90+1 min:Golden chance for Andrews from a corner, but he sends his free header inches wide of the far post. Pletikosa was beaten.
90 mins:Five minutes added on. You can't fault the Republic's effort, but they're going to come up short in a soggy Poznan.
88 mins:Former Arsenal striker Eduardo is coming on for Perisic.
86 mins:Cox whips in a fantastic cross which is punched away by Pletikosa. The ball comes back over from Duff but Andrews knocks his header above the bar.
83 mins:Kranjcar has his name taken by the referee for a foul on Walters. The free-kick is punted long but straight out of play for a Croatia goal-kick.
81 mins:Another effort by Andrews, this time with his right foot from about 20 yards, but he doesn't get hold of his shot which runs wide of the target.
80 mins:Duff, who has been the Republic's best player, fires another teasing cross in from the right. Andrews gets in front of his marker but his low header is well smothered by Pletikosa.
78 mins:Slick move by Croatia as Srna pulls the ball back for Rakitic whose first-time shot whistles just wide of the far post.
75 mins:Final throw of the dice for Trapattoni as the Italian sends Long on for skipper Keane.
72 mins:Croatia make their first sub as goalscorer Jelavic is replaced by Kranjcar.
70 mins:Excellent play by Duff who latches onto a long ball down the Irish right and swings in a dangerous cross, but an unchallenged Pletikosa takes a clean catch.
67 mins:Another Irish free-kick is hoisted into the Croatia area by Duff. Dunne rises highest but his tame header is easily saved by Pletikosa.
63 mins:Big appeal for an Irish penalty turned down! Keane tries to turn Schildenfeld just inside the box and takes a tumble, but the referee tells the striker to get up. The replays show Schildenfeld went through the back of Keane's legs and took man before ball. Should have been a spot-kick.
60 mins:The Irish are looking a bit more dangerous with Walters and Cox on the pitch but time is against them. O'Shea gets forward and lofts in a cross which the keeper collects.
57 mins:The Republic's best hope of scoring is probably a set-piece. Duff wins a free-kick on the right, but Dunne is penalised for a foul when it's whipped into the box.
54 mins:Trapattoni responds by making a double change as Walters and Cox replace Doyle and McGeady. The two subs immediately combine on the edge of the Croatia box but Cox blasts over.
53 mins:Modric is in the book for catching Whelan late on the halfway line.
51 mins:Croatia earn a corner which Rakitic pings to an unmarked Srna on the edge of the box, but his first-time volley is blocked before the Republic scramble it clear.
48 mins: CROATIA EXTEND LEAD!The second half starts exactly like the first. Mandzukic, who scored the opening goal, crashes a header against the inside of the post and the ball bounces off the back of Given's head and into the net. Desperately unlucky. Not much the keeper could have done to prevent that. Irish in deep trouble now.
46 mins:Big half needed for the Irish, especially when you look at their next two fixtures. No changes at the break.
HALF-TIME:A frantic first half comes to an end. The Irish made the worst possible start after falling behind on three minutes, equalised through a St Ledger header, but then allowed Jelavic to score two minutes before the break after some sloppy defending. Croatia look very tidy in possession. Given has been the busier of the two goalkeepers, while the Republic haven't looked like scoring in open play which must be a worry for their fans. Join us for the second half soon.
45+2 mins:Rakitic gets on the end of a cross from the left but plants his header a few inches over the Irish bar.
45 mins:Andrews is shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Mandzukic. Two minutes added on.
43 mins: CROATIA BACK IN FRONT!Poor defending from the Irish. A shot is driven into a wall of green bodies. Ward tries to clear his lines but slices it into the path of JELAVIC who lifts his shot over Given and into the roof of the net.
39 mins:Strinic whips in a cross from the left which Jelavic meets but heads wide. Croatia are looking very dangerous with the ball.
36 mins:Croatia come forward again as Jelavic's flick sets up a volley on the edge of the area for Perisic, but his wicked shot flies wide. Given will be relieved because there was plenty of power behind the effort.
33 mins:Modric tests Given with a vicious right-footed strike from 25 yards but it's straight at the keeper. Croatia are starting to control the tempo.
31 mins:Good spell of possession for Croatia with Modric heavily involved. The Irish are dropping quite deep.
28 mins:The Republic have a free-kick in an identical position to which they scored. Again McGeady curls the set-piece into the danger zone, but there's just too much on it for a leaping Ward at the far post.
25 mins:Crunching tackle from Corluka on Whelan. The Irish players aren't happy with it but no card is produced by the referee.
22 mins:Fantastic effort from Perisic who unleashes a swerving shot which Given beats away after diving to his left. Blistering start to the game.
19 mins: IRISH EQUALISER!Get in there! McGeady bends a teasing free-kick into the Croatia six-yard box and ST LEDGER gets across Corluka to head the ball in from close range. Superb response after falling behind in the third minute.
18 mins:Rakitic swings a dangerous free-kick into the Irish area but O'Shea flicks the ball behind with his head. Someone is blowing a whistle in the crowd which is causing confusion for the players.
15 mins:It's belting it down in Poznan with the ball skidding off the surface. Perisic finds space down Croatia's left but he overhits his cross.
12 mins:Andrews takes the free-kick, but his effort is blocked by the wall and he sends his volley from the rebound well wide. Disappointing effort. Could have done with Ian Harte in the squad.
11 mins:Much better from the men in green. Doyle wins a free-kick about two yards outside the Croatia area. This is a chance for Trapattoni's side.
7 mins:Doyle holds the ball up for Duff who has the Republic's first effort on goal, but he drags his shot wide from 25 yards.
5 mins:Jelavic almost gets through on goal but the Everton striker is denied by a last-ditch Dunne challenge on the edge of the box. The Irish need to settle.
3 mins: AWFUL START FOR THE IRISH!Croatia force their first corner which is only half-cleared. The ball is crossed back into the mixer and MANDZUKIC manages to steer a fairly soft header past a wrong-footed Given into the bottom corner. Nightmare for the Republic.
0 mins:Here we go then as Croatia, wearing blue, get this Group C clash underway. The Municipal Stadium is covered by a sea of green.
1940:The Green Army have waited 24 years for this moment as Keane leads out his country at the Euros. Cracking atmosphere in Poznan as we await the anthems.
1920:Welcome to Orange's live coverage of the Republic of Ireland's opening Group C clash against Croatia. Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed he will field his strongest possible team in the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. Trapattoni announced his side, barring injuries of unforeseen circumstances, last week and having seen his players come through their final training session in Gdynia unscathed before heading down to Poznan, will stick with his original selection. For Croatia, defender Vedran Corluka has been given the all-clear to play after complaining of a hamstring injury on Thursday. Can Ireland get their first European Championship campaign in 24 years off to a winning start? Check the full teams below, and let me know your predictions by clicking my name above.