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Croatia crush hapless Belgium

Published: Saturday 29 March 2003, 21.33CET
Croatia 4-0 Belgium Croatia bounced back in Group 8 with a 4-0 win against Belgium.

Match statistics

CroatiaBelgium

Goals scored4
 
0
Yellow cards2
 
2
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

Last updated: 27/06/2012 11:56 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Saturday 29 March 2003, 21.33CET

Croatia crush hapless Belgium

Croatia 4-0 Belgium Croatia bounced back in Group 8 with a 4-0 win against Belgium.

Croatia consigned a poor start to their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying campaign to the past by overwhelming Belgium 4-0 in Zagreb. A goal from Darijo Srna at the start of the first half and another from Dado Pršo early in the second proved decisive in a thoroughly one-sided encounter.

Identity found
With Bulgaria out in front in Group 8 on nine points and Belgium second, where they remained despite the defeat, Croatia desperately needed victory to get back on track. The retirement of Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinečki has left a massive gap but Otto Baric’s side, who went into the game with just a point after a draw in their opener against Estonia, finally found their personality against Belgium.

Poise shattered
The visitors’ initial poise was shattered when Srna opened the scoring in the ninth minute, arrowing in a shot from an acute angle when Belgium goalkeeper Franky Vandendriessche expected a cross. The goal served to soothe the tempestuous home fans, who were delighted to see Croatia rediscover their rhythm.

Wilmots missed
Striker Dado Pršo almost increased the lead soon after when he steered a header just wide, just before Wesley Sonck went close for the away side in the 18th minute, opening up the inside left channel but blasting straight at goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Maric wide
From there on, however, any more goals were going to be Croatian and Tomislav Maric should have put himself on the scoresheet just before the break but headed wide after a corner from the left. Belgium, sorely missing the creative influence of retired playmaker Marc Wilmots, were short of ideas up front.

Accurate header
Pršo, who has hit six goals in ten games for AS Monaco FC this season, doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, nodding Milan Rapaic’s clipped pass from deep just past the despairing grasp of Vandendriessche. Any hope Belgium had of clawing themselves back into contention evaporated when their out-of-sorts defence was breached for the third time in the 71st minute. Tomislav Maric met Rapaic’s pinpoint cross with a powerful and accurate downward header to make it 3-0.

Leko clincher
When substitute Jerko Leko glided into the box in the 76th minute, turning his marker inside out before shooting unerringly into the far corner, the home faithful had even more reason to be cheerful. The performance of their rejuvenated side had been dominant and composed from the off and had Maric finished off from close range in the dying minutes it could easily have been 5-0.

Magic formula
"I am very pleased," said Baric after the match. "We looked long and hard for our best team but we have found it. We defeated a powerful opponent. Belgium were better than us in the first 30 or so minutes but this squad proved their worth. I am lucky to have these players - all 14 of them played brilliantly. We have another match now, and we will not lose too much time celebrating. The game against Andorra on Wednesday is just as important as this one."

Bad timing
"Croatia scored in the worst moments of the match for us," concluded Belgium coach Aimé Antheunis. "They gained the psychological advantage. After the first goal we managed to keep playing well, but the second goal was too much. The Croatian team showed great composure and maturity."

Last updated: 30/03/03 17.38CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2004/matches/round=1579/match=69030/postmatch/report/index.html#croatia+crush+hapless+belgium

Lineups

Croatia

Croatia

Belgium

Belgium

1
PletikosaStipe Pletikosa
1
VandendriesscheFranky Vandendriessche
2
ŠimićDario Šimić
2
De CockOlivier De Cock
Yellow Card20
Substitution56
3
ŠimunićJosip Šimunić
3
SimonsTimmy Simons
4
R.KovačRobert Kovač
4
Van BuytenDaniel Van Buyten
5
TudorIgor Tudor
Substitution77
5
Van der HeydenPeter Van der Heyden
6
ŽivkovićBoris Živković (C)
6
ValgaerenJoos Valgaeren
Substitution67
7
RapaićMilan Rapaić
7
EnglebertGaëtan Englebert
Substitution55
8
RossoGiovanni Rosso
Yellow Card26
Substitution46
8
GoorBart Goor (C)
9
PršoDado Pršo
Goal55
Substitution71
9
SonckWesley Sonck
10
SrnaDarijo Srna
Goal9
Yellow Card34
10
BuffelThomas Buffel
11
Tomislav MaricTomislav Maric
Goal70
11
Emile MpenzaEmile Mpenza

Substitutes

12
ButinaTomislav Butina
12
Van Der StraetenYves Van Der Straeten
13
StanićMario Stanić
Substitution71
13
Van DammeJelle Van Damme
Substitution67
14
LekoJerko Leko
Substitution46
Goal76
14
BaseggioWalter Baseggio
Substitution55
15
N.KovačNiko Kovač
Substitution77
15
DeflandreEric Deflandre
Substitution56
Yellow Card70
16
BabićMarko Babić
16
MartensSandy Martens
17
TomasStjepan Tomas
17
ThijsBernd Thijs
18
BalabanBoško Balaban
18
RousselCédric Roussel

Coach

Otto Barić (SRB) Aime Anthuenis (BEL)

Referee

Herbert Fandel (GER)

Assistant referees

Jan-Hendrik Salver (GER), Harald Sather (GER)

Fourth official

Hermann Albrecht (GER)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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