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Ireland v Croatia - Euro 2012
Ireland began the Euro 2012 campaign in the worst possible manner. With just over two minutes gone in their opening Group C tie against Croatia in Poznan, the Irish found themselves a goal behind.
A guided header from Mandukic wrong-footed Irish goalkeeper Shay Given and despite a despairing dive by the Irish record cap holder, the ball crept just inside the post. This was a real shock to Giovanni Trapattoni's team not to mention the massed ranks of Irish fans in the stands of the Municipal Stadium.
The Irish worked hard to recover from this early set back and no-one worked harder than veteran Damien Duff. He tracked back tirelessly to help out the defence while also toiling out wide up front.
Irish efforts were rewarded after 19 minutes when Sean St Ledger held off a Croatian defender to get his head on the end of an Aiden McGeady free kick. His powerful header flew past Stipe Pletikosa in the Croatia goal to garner St Ledger's third goal of his international career.
Just as it appeared that the tie would end up all square at half time, Everton's Nikica Jelavic, although loitering in an offside position, latched on to a through pass to lift the ball over the advancing Given. It's never a good time to concede a goal however Jelavic's late first half goal was a particularly hard blow for the Irish.
This was compounded when the Croats increased their lead just four minutes into the second half. A long distance shot from Mandukic crashed off the base of the Irish goal post and rebounded off the back of diving Given's head and into the goal.
Mandukic's second goal gave Croatia a 3-1 which proved to be unassailable. Despite a clear foul by Gordon Schildenfeld on Robbie Keane inside the Croatian box, the well-placed Dutch referee turned down the Irish appeals.
The Irish cause was not
helped by some strange substitutions by Trapattoni as Croatia effectively
shut up shop to see the match out.
Euro 2012 - Republic of Ireland V Croatia Statistics
Irish & Croatian Teams
Republic of Ireland Team
Date: 10 June 2012. Venue: Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland. Attendance: 39,650. Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland).
2012 Euro Group C Table After First Round of Matches
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