Greece grind out draw in Croatia
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Croatia 0-0 Greece
Croatia had to settle for a draw after the visitors' concerted rearguard action earned them a point in Zagreb.
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Croatia were forced to settle for a goalless draw in Group F after a concerted rearguard action allowed Greece to escape Zagreb with a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying point.
Greece had come from behind to draw 1-1 with Georgia four days earlier after conceding inside three minutes, but Fernando Santos's team started as they meant to go on at the Stadion Maksimir. On a frustrating night, Slaven Bilić's men dominated possession but struggled to break down a well-drilled defensive wall, with second-half efforts from substitutes Nikica Jelavić and Eduardo the closest Croatia came to breaking through.
The home side had begun brightly, moving the ball swiftly through Niko Kranjčar and Luka Modrić, the latter back after a thigh injury forced him to miss Friday's 3-0 win in Latvia. With the wing-backs providing attacking width and the impressive Danijel Pranjić often involved, Croatia looked intent on getting an early opener. However, a deflected Kranjčar effort after eight minutes, pushed for a corner by goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis, was as close as they would come before half-time.
Greece contained, harried and after 18 minutes went close to an opener when Georgios Samaras pounced on Vedran Ćorluka's miscontrol and chipped just wide. The chance was a rarity, though the game sparked to life at the start of the second period when substitute Jelavić and Georgios Tzavelas had efforts ruled out for offside and a foul respectively. Another Croatia replacement, Ivan Rakitić, also went close with a long-range shot tipped behind for a corner from which Ćorluka headed just wide.
Back came Croatia, chipping away at Avraam Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos and, as tiredness set in, chinks appeared in Greece's back line in the closing stages. Jelavić, Kranjčar and Pranjić were all unable to capitalise, however, while substitute Eduardo could not get enough on Rakitić's late inswinging corner.