Sunday, June 8, 2008

Croatia make it '0 & 2' for the Euro hosts

Euro 2008.
EURO 2008: Austria 0:1 Croatia (Modric pen 4') Prater Stadium, Vienna

Croatia proved their home and away wins over England were no fluke with a 1-0 win over co-hosts Austria in Vienna, thanks to soon-to-be Spurs man Luka Modric's spot-kick.

Austria, despite the backing of a sold-out Prater, confirmed fans' worst fears by conceding in under four minutes of their Euro 2008 debut.

The Croats tore into their under-fire hosts from the off and looked the more ravenous as well as the silkier passers of the two sides in the first half.

The Austrians enjoyed a far better second half in terms of possession and chances, forcing Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa into a couple of punches and the back four into a sweat with some moments of sustained pressure, but they never had their guests on the ropes.

Austria in the end played better than their world ranking of 92nd might have suggested, but if the home advantage being Euro 2008 hosts cannot help them to avoid defeat in their opening game, their prospects of taking points off Poland and Germany look bleak.

Both hosts have lost their opening games, sadly confirming doubts that either would have qualified through competitive games instead.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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