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Croatia to witness Ireland's comeback

Published: Tuesday 3 January 2012, 21.45CET
Giovanni Trapattoni will lead the Republic of Ireland in their first finals game since the 2002 FIFA World Cup as they meet Croatia in their UEFA EURO 2012 Group C opener in Poznan.

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Tournament statistics

Republic of IrelandCroatia

Goals scored1
Total attempts25
Attempts on target11
Attempts off target14
Attempts blocked3
Attempts against woodwork0
Yellow cards8
Red Cards1
Fouls committed51
Fouls suffered42

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Published: Tuesday 3 January 2012, 21.45CET

Croatia to witness Ireland's comeback

Giovanni Trapattoni will lead the Republic of Ireland in their first finals game since the 2002 FIFA World Cup as they meet Croatia in their UEFA EURO 2012 Group C opener in Poznan.

The Republic of Ireland take on Croatia in their first Group C game at UEFA EURO 2012 having not played at a final tournament since the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Head-to-head record
• The Irish have had slightly the better of the sides' previous six meetings, boasting the record W2 D3 L1 against Croatia. In their two competitive meetings, the sides claimed a win apiece.

• They first met in Dublin on 2 June 1996, in Croatia's final preparation match before their major finals debut at EURO '96. Davor Šuker (14) and Zvonimir Boban (46) gave the visitors a 2-1 lead after Keith O'Neill had levelled (24). Niall Quinn salvaged a 2-2 draw for the Irish with an 89th-minute equaliser. Slaven Bilić played the full 90 minutes.

• The teams' next meetings came in UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying, where an Ireland side featuring teenagers Robbie Keane and Damien Duff beat Croatia 2-0 in Dublin thanks to a fourth-minute Denis Irwin penalty and a Roy Keane strike (15). Bilić again featured in the return leg as a last-gasp Šuker strike gave the home side a 1-0 win.

• A friendly in Dublin on 15 August 2001 produced a repeat of the 1996 result, with Damien Duff (21) and Clinton Morrison (78) scoring for the hosts, only for late goals by Davor Vugrinec (80) and a Šuker penalty (90) to earn the visitors a draw. Manchester United FC defender John O'Shea, then 20, won his first cap.

• The Irish fared better when the teams met again in Dublin for a friendly on 16 November 2004. A 24th-minute Robbie Keane goal earning them a 1-0 victory.

Selected previous meetings
10 August 2011: Republic of Ireland 0-0 Croatia – Dublin Arena, Dublin, friendly
Republic of Ireland:
Given (Westwood 65), Kelly, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward, Duff (Treacy 83), Whelan (O'Dea 74), Gibson, Hunt (Keogh 65), Long (Cox 83), Keane.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Ćorluka (Vrsaljko 74), Šimunić, Lovren, Strinić, Srna, Modrić, Vukojević (Dujmović 86), Kranjčar (Iličević 65), Eduardo (Olić 46), Mandžukić (Kalinić 74).

• The sides' most recent meeting was their first at the new home of Irish football, the Dublin Arena.

4 September 1999: Croatia 1-0 Republic of Ireland (Šuker 90) – Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, UEFA EURO 2000 qualifier
Ladić, D Šimić, Jarni, Soldo, Štimac, Bilić (Rukavina 46), Asanović, Stanić (J Šimić 85), Šuker, Rapaić, R Kovač
Republic of Ireland: A Kelly, Carr, Staunton, Breen, Cunningham, Carsley, G Kelly (Harte 73), Kinsella, Cascarino (Quinn 83), McLoughlin, Duff (Kilbane 57).

• Miroslav Blažević's Croatia got the better of Mick McCarthy's Ireland in the teams' last competitive meeting, with Šuker hitting his 42nd international goal to record a 1-0 win. Bilić played the first half, but gave way to Tomislav Rukavina at the break.

Form guide
• Ireland have not lost in six competitive meetings since that 0-0 friendly draw against Croatia in August 2011, recording three wins and three draws as they made it to the finals of UEFA EURO 2012 with a play-off success against Estonia.

• Eliminated on penalties by Spain in the last 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Ireland are unbeaten in finals games since losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in their final fixture at the 1994 World Cup, in the round of 16.

• The Irish are competing in a UEFA European Championship final tournament for the first time since making their debut in the 1988 event. In West Germany, they beat England 1-0 in their opening fixture, but missed the cut for the semi-finals, drawing against the Soviet Union then losing to the Netherlands.

• Croatia are competing at a third successive UEFA European Championship; they have missed only one of the last five – UEFA EURO 2000.

• Croatia lost on penalties to Turkey in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008; they have thus not lost a European finals tie over 90 minutes since being beaten 4-2 by England in their final group stage game at UEFA EURO 2004.

Team ties
• A Croatia side featuring Stipe Pletikosa and Josip Šimunić beat Giovanni Trapattoni's Italy 2-1 in their second game at the 2002 World Cup finals.

• Vedran Ćorluka and Richard Dunne played together at Manchester City FC from 2007 to 2008.

• Between 2009 and 2011, Ćorluka, Luka Modrić and Niko Kranjčar shared the Tottenham Hotspur FC dressing-room with Robbie Keane when the Ireland striker was not on loan at Celtic FC and West Ham United FC.

• Nikola Kalinić played alongside Keith Andrews at Blackburn Rovers FC between 2009 and 2011.

• In January Nikica Jelavić moved from Rangers FC to Everton FC, becoming a team-mate of Darron Gibson who signed from Manchester United FC the same month.

• When Brian Kerr's Ireland won the 1998 UEFA European Under-18 Championship, to go with the U16 title they had picked up two months earlier, they met Croatia in the finals group stage in Cyprus. Robbie Keane scored in the 5-2 win, playing alongside Dunne in the Ireland team. Pletikosa lined up for Croatia.

• The Irish went on to take the title by beating Germany 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, while the Croatians earned bronze medals with a 5-4 shoot-out win after a goalless 120 minutes with Portugal, Pletikosa making the decisive save.

Last updated: 05/12/13 4.49CET