Croatia 0-0 Estonia
Estonia continued their run of good results away from home in UEFA European Championship qualifiers as they opened their EURO 2004™ campaign with a scoreless draw against Croatia.
The Estonians, who recorded two wins and a draw on their travels in their qualification group for EURO 2000™, can take much heart from holding a side that played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals to a draw. Indeed, the result was a far cry from when the two sides previously met in 1995 when Estonia were on the receiving end of a 7-1 thrashing. However, careful defensive organisation together with some inspired goalkeeping from Mart Poom helped preserve parity, and the Baltic side were not without their scoring opportunities.
The opening chance actually fell to the visitors as early as the fourth minute when Indrek Zelinski's goalbound effort was superbly turned around the post by Stipe Pletikosa in the Croatian goal. The incident inspired the home side to create some chances of their own, the best of the opening period coming from a Marko Babic free-kick after 14 minutes, which Poom saved.
Filip Tapalovic came closest for the home side after the break, but he shot narrowly wide of the target in the 65th minute. But Croatia gradually looked more desperate for a goal as the second half grew older, and though they were more aggressive going forward, Poom together with some poor final passes frustrated them. However, the more Croatia forced, the more opportunities they left for the Estonians, but from two such raids, Andres Oper and Urmas Rooba should have done better for the visitors.