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Euro 2012 Group C: Croatia 3 Ireland 1

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Jun 2012

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Croatia took charge of Group C with a 3-1 victory on Sunday as Ireland’s usually reliable defence crumbled in Poznan.

Mario Mandzukic got the Balkan side off to a great start with an early goal but Sean St Ledger restored parity midway through the first half.

Ireland then began to take a back seat in the match and they were punished with goals from Nikica Jelavic and Mandzukic either side of the break.

Croatia were ahead within three minutes of the kick-off.

Darijo Srna drove to the byline and clipped the ball back into the area where Mandzukic recovered from a slip to meet it with his head.

He somehow generated enough power to get his effort on target, catching Shay Given by surprise.

After drawing a free kick from Vedran Corluka, Aiden McGeady whipped in the subsequent free kick from out on the left.

Corluka compounded a nightmare couple of minutes as he lost St Ledger at the back post and he nodded in to level in the 19th minute.

Croatia took control but with the final third congested Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric were forced to shoot from range and despite both hitting the target, Given was equal to them.

Trapattoni’s side were unable to hold on until half-time as Stephen Ward sliced a clearance from Modric’s shot straight into the path of an unmarked Jelavic.

The striker was quick to react and stabbed the ball over Given to score his first international goal since August 2010.

The second half began just as the first and Croatia doubled their lead just moments after the restart. Perisic’s delivery from the left was glanced towards the far corner by the head of Mandzukic.

His attempt bounced out off the post but was cruelly diverted into the net via the head of Given as he dived to make the save.

Ireland were lacking numbers going forward and their fans were incensed at the referee’s decision not to award them a penalty when Gordon Schildenfeld went through the back of Robbie Keane at the top of the box.

Keith Andrews headed wide in stoppage time but they could not deny Croatia a valuable win that puts them top of Group C.

Ireland, meanwhile, face an uphill struggle if they are to progress, needing positive results against both Spain and Italy.

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