Slaven Bilic said Croatia’s 3-1 win over Ireland at Euro 2012 on Sunday was a result he had predicted.
Mario Mandzukic gave Croatia a dream start after just three minutes, but despite Sean St Ledger’s reply soon after, Nikica Jelavic and a second from the Wolfsburg forward ensured their country got off to a strong start in Group C.
Speaking after the match, Bilic was only too happy to speak of his pre-match prediction against Ireland coming to fruition, and put his team’s triumph down to thorough preparation and their ability to use the ball effectively.
“Yes I was expecting this kind of result. We were prepared and knew everything about the Irish team. We knew we were the better team,” he told reporters.
“Our penetrations were very successful. I congratulate both teams and both supporters, the atmosphere was great and I think the game was great.
“I am completely satisfied with the way we played. We kept possession and were strong in midfield and we played very well and beat a strong team.
“They scored from a set piece but we were a much better team. We were far more creative. Yes they scored but we reacted very well.”
Bilic said while Croatia’s next match in Group C against Italy will be tougher, he hopes the Ireland win could act as a platform to greater successes.
“I was wishing to win this match against Ireland and we are in a better position now,” he added. “We are top of the group and we have three points, probably one victory will be enough to go through to the quarter-finals.
“The Italian team play different to the Irish team. They are not as good as at the last World Cup but I think they like to have possession and build from the goalkeeper. I think they are one of the favourites.
“Prandelli showed he is a very good tactical coach and I think they are really motivated.”
Meanwhile, Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni still believes his side can progress from the group stages.
Despite his side giving themselves an uphill task in their remaining group matches, Trapattoni, who coached Italy at Euro 2004 where they didn’t lose a game but still went out in the group stage, has not given up hope of making the last eight.
“We have to believe. Every game in this Euro could be a surprise. We have to believe this,” he told reporters.
“Spain is another game. We have to think very much. I must take all the players in confidence – if I decide to make changes now, it will not be because of playing bad or not deserving to play.”
Trapattoni criticised Nikica Jelavic’s controversial second should have stood, claiming the strike was ‘clearly offside’, and feels it changed the course of the game.
“The second goal was very important. I said to the referee, watching the television it was two metres offside,” he said.
Trapattoni concedes Ireland’s display paled in comparison to those that saw them safely through the qualifying rounds, with his side keeping 11 clean sheets from 14 games.
“It was not like our other performances, in many games we have played better, we didn’t concede goals, tonight we conceded three goals.”
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