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Germany edge past ten-man Croatia in EURO '96 quarter-finals

Germany 2-1 Croatia
Germany reached the last four thanks to Matthias Sammer's goal just three minutes after Igor Štimac's red card.

Andreas Köpke, Matthias Sammer and Markus Babbel celebrate Germany's progress
Andreas Köpke, Matthias Sammer and Markus Babbel celebrate Germany's progress ©Getty Images

Germany were made to work hard for a 2-1 win against Croatia which ensured them of a sixth European semi-final.

Impressively clinical in their opening two fixtures, Croatia had missed out on top spot in Group D after coach Miroslav Blaževic's decision to field a patchwork side against Portugal. They subsequently lost 3-0 and were punished with a quarter-final tie against Germany, when they might otherwise have been facing the Czech Republic.

EURO '96: All you need to know

Blaževic's charges fell behind to Jürgen Klinsmann's 20th-minute penalty but looked to have seized the initiative when Davor Šuker equalised just after half-time. Igor Štimac's dismissal halted any such momentum and Matthias Sammer soon gave Germany a lead they would this time hold on to.

The best goals of EURO '96
The best goals of EURO '96

Croatia could have been in front themselves had Goran Vlaović not been so wasteful when put clean through by Aljoša Asanović in the opening period – it would not be the last time the Germans were let off the hook. Berti Vogts' side were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure but then took the lead with their first attack, Klinsmann finishing with typical precision from the spot after Nikola Jerkan's handball in the penalty area.

But Croatia had shown themselves to be nothing if not resilient on their finals debut and deservedly drew level six minutes into the second half. Steffen Freund, on for the injured Klinsmann, was dispossessed by Nikola Jurčević, who fed Šuker in the inside-right channel. Bearing down on goalkeeper Andreas Köpke, the No9 looked certain to shoot with his left foot but rolled the ball brilliantly on to his right and stroked impudently into the net.

Davor Šuker after levelling at Old Trafford
Davor Šuker after levelling at Old TraffordBob Thomas Sports Photography vi

With Germany seemingly there for the taking, Croatia could not afford to rest on their laurels – Štimac's red card halted them in their tracks, however. Only three minutes after being reduced to ten men, just before the hour, they were behind again after Sammer's cool finish. Šuker had the best chance to restore parity for the second time but it was not to be; Germany headed for a semi-final meeting against England.

Reaction

Matthias Sammer, Germany defender: "There was a pass from Markus Babbel, then a header and I put it into the far corner. Before that we got a penalty that had put us 1-0 up. Then we made a mistake and Davor Šuker equalised. Overall we also showed that we had the necessary calmness; we knew we were physically strong."

EURO '96: Team of the Tournament

Lineups

Croatia line up for the anthems at Old Trafford
Croatia line up for the anthems at Old TraffordIcon Sport via Getty Images

Germany: Köpke; Ziege, Helmer, Sammer, Babbel, Reuter; Scholl (Hässler 88); Eilts, Möller; Klinsmann (c) (Freund 39), Bobic (Kuntz 46)
Substitutes: Bode, Kahn, Schneider, Bierhoff, Reck
Coach: Berti Vogts

Croatia: Ladić; Jarni. Štimac, Jerkan, Bilić, Stanić; Asanović, Jurčević (Mladenović 78), Boban (c); Vlaović, Šuker
Substitutes: Prosinečki, Bokšić, Mrmić, Soldo, Pavličić, Pamić, Brajković, Cvitanović, Gabrić
Coach
: Miroslav Blažević

Referee: Leif Sundell (Sweden)

Man of the Match: Matthias Sammer (Germany)