Croatia has lost its opening match of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship against the Netherlands 3-1 at Donaustadion in Ulm on Tuesday…
The Netherlands, fielding a number of players from the PSV academy set up, started the match brightly and were the first side to create any real chances. It only took them 17 minutes to open the scoring when Bergwijn headed home after being unmarked at the back post from a cross.
Croatia struggled to get any continuity in their game against the tall and physical Dutch side. They doubled their lead 16 minutes later when Lammers finished off from inside the 6-yard box after a slick move.
Croatia slowly started to get back in the match after 35 minutes and drew their first save from the Dutch keeper when he had to tip Moro’s long distance shot around the post. Croatia kept up the period of pressure and it was their star player, Wolfsburg signing Josip Brekalo, who provided some individual brilliance to get Croatia back in the game. Brekalo received the ball wide on the right and after cutting in and beating his man he fired a long-range effort which beat Van Osch.
Croatia started the second half better than they did the first and looked to press forward for the equaliser. Their caused was helped in the 54th minute when right back Zeefuik was sent off for his second bookable offence.
Croatia continued to enjoy more possession and took control of the match pouring on relentless pressure in search of a goal. Attempts from dangerous Davor Lovren and Fran Brodić were foiled by the desperate Netherlands defence. As time ticked Croatia drove forward in numbers in search of a goal and it looked likely. But, as is often the case totally against the run of play the Netherlands managed to seal the match with five minutes remaining after a goal on the counter-attack. Bergwijn sprinted the length of the pitch after a corner at the other end broke down and the PSV striker beat Letica with his the second attempt to wrap the game up 3-1.
Croatia will now face France next on 15 July, followed by their last group game against England on 18 July. The top two teams from the group qualify for the semi-finals.
CROATIA 1-3 NETHERLANDS
GOALS: Bergwijn 17′, Lammers 33′, Brekalo ’43, Bergwijn 80′
CROATIA: Letica – Hudeček, Erlić, Soldo, Anočić (Čabraja ’80) – Lovren, Balić (Božić ’73), Moro (Ivanušec ’67), Knežević, Brekalo – Brodić
NETHERLANDS: Van Osch – Zeefuik, Rosario, Ter Avest, Verdonk – Bergwijn, Schuurman, Duarte, Nouri, Paal – Lammers