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Solid Šimunić thrilled by team effort

Croatia defender Josip Šimunić paid tribute to his team's "outstanding" performance after they defeated Germany 2-1 to progress through as Group B winners.

Josip Šimunić (right) joins the post-match celebrations
Josip Šimunić (right) joins the post-match celebrations ©Getty Images

'Outstanding game'
Darijo Srna slid in the opener for Slaven Bilić's men after 24 minutes and, instead of being forced back as they were against Austria at the weekend, they added a second through Ivica Olić after Ivan Rakitić's deflected cross had come back off a post. Lukas Podolski then made things interesting again with eleven minutes to go, but Croatia comfortably held on. "We didn't have the best of games against Austria and we wanted to show that we can play a lot better," Šimunić told euro2008.com. "We played an outstanding game and every player on the field gave his heart. We deserved to win. In every duel, our players showed we wanted the ball and we showed initiative going forward. We defended very well and every player did his job all over the park."

Blossoming partnership
One feature of the match was the virtually faultless display by Šimunić and Robert Kovač in the centre of Croatia's rearguard. Šimunić has only recently cemented his place in the middle after being mostly used as a left-back by his country, but he was immaculate at the Wörthersee Stadion, heading away ball after ball that looked destined for Miroslav Klose. "I've actually got a headache," the Hertha BSC Berlin man joked. "Myself and Robert have a good partnership. We actually had a lot of people criticising us before the tournament, but I think that in the last two games we, and the rest of the team, have shown what we can do. We had a big blow before the tournament, losing Eduardo da Silva, and people were writing us off, but we're still showing we can come up with good results."

'Zagreb is on fire'
The 30-year-old was also quick to praise Croatia's fans, who provided raucous backing in Klagenfurt and have been swept up in the tournament back home. "I think this will mean a lot [to them]," he said. "A few of my friends have sent me messages saying Zagreb is on fire. They're celebrating and they have every reason to do so. Our fans are outstanding." The players themselves are not getting carried away yet, however. "It's a nice feeling but we still haven't achieved anything," added Šimunić. "Our goal before the tournament was to reach the quarter-finals and we're playing one game at a time. But we're enjoying it – we're having fun."