A piece of Luka Modrić magic has given Croatia the perfect start to their Euro 2016 campaign with a 1-0 win over Turkey at Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday…
Croatia, playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Juventus’ Mario Mandžukić the lone man up front, started the stronger out of the two sides and controlled possession early on. It didn’t take too long for them to create their first chance either when after just 80 seconds captain Darijo Srna curled a dangerous ball into the box but Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić could only shoot wide.
Croatia looked up for the occasion, particularly Modrić who was busy in the middle of the park in the opening spell. Croatia’s next good chance fell in the 23rd minute when Ivan Perišić was sent free down the left after good one-touch build up. His cross however was a shade too high for Marcelo Brozović who headed wide. Brozović had another half chance two minutes later, this time his header went wide after a tantalizing cross from Srna on the right.
Croatia kept up the sustained pressure and test Turkish keeper Volkan Babacan for the first time in the 27th minute when Milan Badelj unleashed a shot from the edge of the box. Turkey’s first chance came in the 28th minute when Ozan Tufan headed straight at Danijel Subašić from six yards out.
Just when it looked as if the teams would go to the break all square, Modrić produced a moment of magic to opening the scoring. The midfield maestro, who worked hard all half scored with a screaming volley from outside the box to give Croatia a deserved 1-0 lead.
Croatia started the second half as they did the first and could easily have doubled their lead in the 50th minute when Srna hit the crossbar from a free kick just out side the box after Rakitić was bought down after a mazy run. Another chace fell to Srna a few minutes later after more Croatia pressure. Time the skipper failed to direct his shot on target after the ball fell loose from another dangerous Perišić cross.
Croatia were not content to defend their lead and with half an hour remaining Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozović nearly matched Modrić’s brilliance but shot just over with a volley from the edge of the box.
In the 67th minute Croatia had another chance to put the match to bed but an out-stretched Brozović failed to latch on to Perišić’s cross with an open goal in front of him. It was then the turn of Perišić to seal the match in the 72nd minute but his header from close range could only hit the cross bar. More chances fell to Perišić and Brozović again in the final ten minutes but the score remained unchanged till the final whistle.
Although Croatia failed to put the game out of Turkey’s reach in the second half despite creating a number of chances, coach Ante Čačić will be pleased with his side’s performance.
EURO 2016 – Group D
CROATIA 1-0 TURKEY
CROATIA: Danijel Subašić – Darijo Srna, Vederan Ćorluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinić – Luka Modrić, Milan Badelj – Marcelo Brozović, Ivan Rakitić (Shildenfeld), Ivan Perišić (Kramarić) – Mario Mandžukić (Pjaca)
TURKEY: Volkan Babacan – Gökhan Gönül, Mehmet Topal, Hakan Balta, Caner Erkin – Selçuk İnan, Ozan Tufan – Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Oğuzhan Özyakup, Arda Turan (kap.) – Cenk Tosun