Jukić the hero as Croatia pip Ukraine to semis
Monday, 6 February 2012
Croatia 1-1 Ukraine (Croatia win 3-1 on pens)
MNK Split goalkeeper Ivo Jukić stopped three penalties on home turf as Croatia reached a EURO semi-finals for the first time.
Article top media content
Croatia are through to the UEFA European Futsal Championship semi-finals for the first time after a 3-1 penalty shoot-out triumph over Ukraine.
Following a 1-1 draw over 40 minutes, in which Denys Ovsyannikov's own goal at a boisterous Spaladium Arena was cancelled out by Ukraine's Serhiy Chepornyuk, the game went into two goalless five-minute periods of extra time.
In the shoot-out, Ivo Jukić, who plays his club futsal for local side MNK Split, saved three of Ukraine's first four efforts, to delight the competition-record crowd of 9,800. The hosts can now look forward to a tie against Serbia or Russia in the first Arena Zagreb semi-final on Thursday.
Croatia wasted little time in trying to avenge the 4-1 defeat by their opponents in the FIFA Futsal World Cup main round in December, with local favourite Dario Marinović flashing a shot wide inside six seconds.
Marinović then whacked the outside of a post having been played down the line by club colleague Franko Jelovčić. Ukraine, though, were not letting the atmosphere affect them, as they patiently probed for a chink in Croatia's armour.
Yet, save for when Jukić slid out to dispossess Chepornyuk and Jelovčić took the ball off Ovsyannikov as he prepared to pull the trigger, Ukraine seldom gave cause for alarm before half-time. Indeed, they fell behind before it when Ovsyannikov deflected in Jakov Grcić's ball back from the goal line.
Roared on by chants of 'Hrvatska, Hrvatska' before the break, Croatia began the second period with Tihomir Novak firing wide. Warnings were never far away, however, and a few minutes after Chepornyuk hit the side netting, the same player found the bottom right-hand corner of Jukić's goal.
Temporarily silenced, the crowd soon rediscovered their collective voice as their side pushed again. It was Gennadiy Lisenchuk's charges who posed the greater threat as the game entered extra time, where Oleksandr Kondratyuk swiftly struck a post and Jukić blocked Valeriy Legchanov's free-kick.
From the spot, Jukić denied Kondratyuk, Serhiy Zhurba and Legchanov to seal a historic last-four place for the hosts.