PARIS: Luka Modric’s perfect technique lifted Croatia to a 1-0 win over Turkey yesterday at the European Championship.
The Real Madrid midfielder scored with a dipping volley in the 41st minute of a rugged and bloodied Group D game at Parc des Princes. Modric strode forward into the path of a high clearance for a 25-meter shot that Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Babacan failed to keep out.
Croatia had several good chances to score, but was twice denied by the crossbar in the second half. Veteran captain Darijo Srna’s curling free kick glanced off the woodwork on its way over, and Ivan Perisic’s close-range header rebounded out of danger.
Modric’s goal stood out in a mostly uninspiring first half. Playing in a deep role, he was perfectly placed when Turkey’s defense panicked dealing with a cross into the goalmouth.
An aimless clearance sent the ball looping into a central area and Modric sent back a bouncing shot.
In the first Euro 2016 match after violence Saturday at the match between Russia and England in Marseille, a fan in a Croatia shirt jumped from the stands to join the players while they were celebrating the goal. He was led away by stadium security staff and UEFA will likely sanction Croatia’s soccer federation for the security breach.
The 1-0 scoreline was the same when the teams made their Euro debuts playing each other in 1996 in England.
“We never start well in these big tournaments,” said Terim, who coached Turkey 20 years ago and to the semifinals of Euro 2008. “I am upset but, as I said, we will learn our lessons. We shouldn’t lose the ball so easily and we should run and fight more.”
Two teams better known for neat ground passes mostly preferred lofting crosses into the goalmouth. Unfortunately for Croatia, back-to-back headed chances in the 23rd were wasted by midfielder Marcelo Brozovic as tall forward Mario Mandzukic lurked nearby.
Turkey’s best headed chance also fell to a midfielder. Ozan Tufan miscued in the 29th to force goalkeeper Danijel Subasic into a stumbling save on his goal line.
Amid so much aerial play, there were collisions and casualties. Croatia defender Vedran Corluka was left with a bloodied head and face by forward Cenk Tosun’s elbow. Tosun was shown a yellow card and Corluka wore a large white bandage until he could be stitched up at halftime.
Corluka’s wound reopened and he was patched up twice more, angering Turkish fans whose whistles and jeers when he fell to the ground suggested they felt it was a time-wasting tactic. “He is a fighter. He showed so much courage, made so many headers even with the bleeding,” Croatia coach Ante Cacic said through a translator.
Turkey sent on 18-year-old forward Emre Mor as a late substitute but the new Borussia Dortmund signing had little chance to shine. In the other Group D match, Spain will play the Czech Republic today in Toulouse. – AP