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Croatia finish the job against Turkey

Published: Tuesday 15 November 2011, 22.15CET
Croatia 0-0 Turkey (agg: 3-0)
All the hard work was done in Istanbul as Slaven Bilić's side defended a first-leg play-off lead to confirm their place at UEFA EURO 2012.
by Peter Murphy
from Stadion Maksimir

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Published: Tuesday 15 November 2011, 22.15CET

Croatia finish the job against Turkey

Croatia 0-0 Turkey (agg: 3-0)
All the hard work was done in Istanbul as Slaven Bilić's side defended a first-leg play-off lead to confirm their place at UEFA EURO 2012.

Croatia secured their qualification for UEFA EURO 2012 after a goalless draw against Turkey eased Slaven Bilić's side through following their dominant performance in Istanbul on Friday.

The home side were mostly comfortable in Zagreb against visitors who rarely threatened to haul back the three-goal deficit from the first leg. Aside from a blocked Colin Kazım Richards shot before the break, and a second-half effort from Hamit Altıntop which clipped a post, Croatia always looked the more likely to score and can now look forward to their fourth finals in five attempts.

With Croatia taking such a healthy cushion into the game, coach Bilić's pre-match warnings against complacency looked well-placed as a revamped Turkey side, featuring just three survivors from Friday's game, wasted no time in seeking an opener. Just five minutes in, Selçuk İnan's long-distance strike rebounded back off a post to Kazım Richards, whose reflex shot was parried to safety by Stipe Pletikosa.

Croatia looked rattled from the early scare as Guus Hiddink's team urgently probed for a breakthrough but gradually the home side settled. Ivica Olić chipped just over on 17 minutes, while Gordon Schildenfeld nodded narrowly wide. Approaching the break, the industrious Olić teed up openings first for Mario Mandžukić and then Darijo Srna, both firing wide when well placed.

With time against them, Turkey desperately needed a goal and almost managed one just after the hour. Substitute Gökhan Töre's crossfield pass found Kazım Richards on the right who squared for Hamit Altıntop to fire a low effort which shaved the right post on its way wide.

The near miss only served to rouse Croatia who had been comfortably containing the visitors without committing men forward. A fierce drive on 68 minutes by Ivan Rakitić was tipped round a post by Sinan Bolat, then the Sevilla FC midfielder went even closer with a quarter-hour left.

Surging towards goal, he swapped passes with Mandžukić but saw his point-blank effort thwarted again by Sinat. It mattered little, though, as Croatia saw out time to claim their Poland and Ukraine ticket.

Last updated: 26/10/12 14.07CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1715098.html#croatia+finish+against+turkey

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