Iceland felt proud of how they dealt with Ólafur Skúlason's dismissal early in the second half in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup play-off against Croatia, with a 0-0 draw a disappointment for Niko Kovač in his first game in charge of the national team.
Lars Lagerbäck, Iceland coach
The players were fantastic. Of course, I am very satisfied with what the players did after having one sent off. The defensive performance in the second half was absolutely world-class – the Croatians barely had a clear chance to score. A goalless draw is not a victory but given the circumstances it was a good result.
I said before the game that as long as we kept a clean sheet we would have a good chance for the second leg and I think we still have a realistic chance to beat them. If we can defend like we did today, I think we have a good chance. We have players who can score.
Ragnar Sigurdsson, Iceland defender
I am very proud of our performance. Of course, it was bad that one of us was sent off so we had to pull back and defend because we had to keep a clean sheet. I think the Croatians had one good chance to score, so we played our part very well. Even after our man was sent off, we still looked to win the game; we kept attacking when we had the ball, but we did not have the ball that much, and didn't create many chances, which is understandable against such a high-class team. I am very optimistic about the second game and think we will win; in fact, I do not just think we will win – I know it.
Aron Gunnarsson, Iceland midfielder
I have a good feeling after this game; it was hard work and we had to work very hard to make up for our missing player, but it was great to be part of it. We defended brilliantly and our attacking in the first half was great too. After Kolbeinn Sigthórsson got injured, it was difficult, but then Eidur Gudjohnsen came on and calmed us down. The fighting spirit was the key thing. If we score one in Croatia our chances are great. We believe in ourselves and even when we are struggling we are up for it.
Darijo Srna, Croatia captain
Iceland are a very solid, classy team with character, and it's not easy to play against them at home. They were even better with ten men on the pitch – they pulled back and defended very well. It was very hard to find a way through their defensive line. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them and we need to respect them, but I expect a sold-out stadium in Zagreb and a lot of support from our spectators in the second leg.
Danijel Pranjić, Croatia midfielder
We knew that Iceland would not give us anything for free, but I am not happy as we had an extra player for 40 minutes and we couldn't score. We had some great chances, though. But this was only the first half – now we are playing at home and in front of our own fans, and we will be looking for a place at the World Cup.
Niko Kovač, Croatia coach
I am not satisfied as we didn't score. Iceland showed a real fighting spirit – they managed to hold off all our attacks. Too bad for us – we had some great chances, but the stakes are huge. You expect the players to be nervous. I didn't like the fact that we were reduced to playing long balls instead of short passes.
Now we are at home, in front of our fans, and we are optimistic. It's not easy to defend for 40 minutes like Iceland did after their player was sent off and I hope it will affect their stamina. I really believe we will win a place at the World Cup.
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