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Croatia edge past stubborn Estonia

Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 18.08CET
Estonia 0-1 Croatia Niko Kovac's late header secures three valuable Group 8 points in Tallinn.

Match statistics

EstoniaCroatia

Goals scored0
1
Yellow cards2
 
3
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

Last updated: 15/10/2013 16:27 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Wednesday 11 June 2003, 18.08CET

Croatia edge past stubborn Estonia

Estonia 0-1 Croatia Niko Kovac's late header secures three valuable Group 8 points in Tallinn.

Despite a stubborn defensive performance, Estonia succumbed to a late Niko Kovac header as Croatia ran out 1-0 winners in this UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 8 match. The game looked like mirroring the goalless draw between the two sides in Zagreb in September, but Otto Baric's side remained patient to take all three points in a tense finale.

Dynamic start
Croatia made a dynamic start. Five minutes in and Mart Poom was culpable of an early mistake as he misjudged a floated ball into the box from Marko Babic, allowing Ivica Olic to sneak in. The striker's flicked header seemed goalbound, but was cleared off the line. Minutes later, only a timely interception from Liivo Leetma rescued the hosts.

Estonia settle
After a shaky start, Estonia managed to settle down and even had some long-range efforts on goal of their own. Then, on 26 minutes, Andres Oper made rapid progress down the right flank, before squaring the ball into the box. His pass went just behind Indrek Zelinski and, after a moment of confusion, Stjepan Tomas managed to scramble the ball away.

Pršo strike
Three minutes later and Dado Pršo's powerfully struck effort would have broken the deadlock at the other end, had it not been straight at Poom. A long-range strike from Olic flew narrowly over, before Poom was forced to save smartly from a Darijo Srna free-kick.

Effective tackle
Estonia were more expansive after the break, but it was Croatia again who nearly scored. Milan Rapaic carried the ball to the by-line on the left, before pulling it back to Pršo, only for Raio Piiroja to make an effective blocking tackle.

Dead-ball threat
Croatia continued to threaten and Rapaic had Poom scrambling with a free-kick that landed on the roof of the net. Substitute Tomislav Maric almost headed in Rapaic's cross with his first touch, but could not keep the ball down. Poom's confidence then grew and on 68 minutes he made a magnificent reaction save after Teet Allas had deflected Rapaic's corner towards his own net.

Pressure tells
With the pressure mounting, the hosts finally buckled. On 76 minutes, Rapaic – by now the most influential player on the pitch – curled in an excellent cross from deep on the left. Poom came and missed and the ball fell to Kovac at the far post. He stooped to head, scrambling the ball in off the prostrate Piiroja.

Late rally
Despite a late rally and a glorious added-time opportunity for substitute Vjatsheslav Zahovaiko, Estonia failed to find an equaliser. Indeed, only some smart saves from Poom and a glaring miss by Olic kept the score at 1-0. The result keeps Group 8 very much alive as Croatia leapfrogged their opponents into second place, just a point behind leaders Bulgaria.

'Deserved to score'
Croatia coach Otto Baric said: "It was a very difficult match but we didn't expect anything less. Estonia have conceded just one goal in five matches before tonight and that is proof of their class. We deserved to score and win this match." Estonia's Arno Pijpers added: "We were well prepared for the game, but they put us under enormous pressure."

Last updated: 30/03/04 11.35CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2004/matches/round=1579/match=69036/postmatch/report/index.html#croatia+edge+past+stubborn+estonia

Lineups

Estonia

Estonia

Croatia

Croatia

1
PoomMart Poom (C)
1
PletikosaStipe Pletikosa
2
AllasTeet Allas
Substitution82
2
ŠimićDario Šimić
Substitution60
3
StepanovAndrei Stepanov
3
ŠimunićJosip Šimunić
4
PiirojaRaio Piiroja
Yellow Card38
4
BabićMarko Babić
Substitution73
5
RoobaUrmas Rooba
5
TomasStjepan Tomas
6
LeetmaLiivo Leetma
6
ŽivkovićBoris Živković
Yellow Card66
7
Meelis RoobaMeelis Rooba
Substitution71
7
RapaićMilan Rapaić
Substitution79
8
KristalMarko Kristal
Yellow Card20
8
SrnaDarijo Srna
Yellow Card32
9
ZelinskiIndrek Zelinski
9
PršoDado Pršo
10
OperAndres Oper
10
N.KovačNiko Kovač
Goal76
11
LindpereJoel Lindpere
Substitution83
11
OlićIvica Olić
Yellow Card90+3

Substitutes

12
KaalmaMartin Kaalma
12
ButinaTomislav Butina
14
ZahovaikoVjatšeslav Zahovaiko
Substitution82
14
LekoJerko Leko
Substitution73
16
ReinumäeOtt Reinumäe
Substitution71
15
RossoGiovanni Rosso
Substitution79
17
LemsaluMarek Lemsalu
Substitution83
17
Tomislav MaricTomislav Maric
Substitution60
13
SaviaukErko Saviauk
13
HrmanDanijel Hrman
15
TerehhovSergei Terehhov
16
MornarIvica Mornar
18
SaharovAleksander Saharov
18
MaricMarijo Maric

Coach

Arno Pijpers (NED) Otto Barić (SRB)

Referee

Alain Hamer (LUX)

Assistant referees

Henri Reuter (LUX), Francis Crelo (LUX)

Fourth official

Luc Wilmes (LUX)

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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