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UEFA Under-21 EURO: Croatia lose opener against Romania

Croatia captain Alen Halilović (Photo: HNS)

SERRAVALLE, 18 June 2019 – Croatia has been beaten in their first appearance at the Under-21 European Championships in 15 years. 

Croatia went down in their opening encounter to Romania 4-1 at the San Marino Stadium in Serravalle, San Marino on Tuesday. 

The match could not have started worse for Croatia after a VAR review for a handball in the box by Benković saw Romania given a penalty in the 11th minute which Puscas would convert. 

Romania then doubled the lead when Hagi capitalised on a defensive error just three minutes later. Coach Nenad Gračan’s problems compounded when star player Josip Brekalo limped off the ground after taking a blow to the thigh early in the match. 

Nikola Vlašić got Croatia back into the match just four minutes later when he collected the ball inside the Romanian half and fired a shot from just inside the box past the Romanian keeper Radu to make it 2-1.

Croatia created a couple of half chances in the second spell to equalise, noteably through striker Jakoliš, but were unable to convert. Romania came close to extending their lead, hitting the post from a free kick, before they eventually did in the 65th minute when Baluta fired home from close range after a defensive error. 

Romania would get thier fourth in the 90th minute when Man tapped in from close range from a cross from the right.

The loss means Nenad Gračan’s side will need to win their remaining two matches if they are to have a chance to advance out of their group.

Croatia’s remaining matches: 

21 June
21:00 France – CROATIA (Serravalle)

24 June
21:00 CROATIA – England (Serravalle)

CROATIA 1-4 ROMANIA
UEFA U-21 EURO, Group C
San Marino

GOALS: Puscas (pen) ’11, Hagi ’14, Vlašić 18’, Baluta 65′, Man 90′

CROATIA: Posavec – Uremović, Benković, Katić, Sosa – Šunjić – Halilović (Murić 76′), Brekalo (Bradarić ’14), Moro (Ivanušec 68′), Vlašić – Jakoliš

ROMANIA: Radu – Manea, Nedelcearu, Pascanu, Stefan – Baluta, Cicaldau – Man, Hagi, Ivan – Puscas

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