Goran Vlaović struck four minutes from time to earn Croatia a 1-0 victory against Turkey in their opening fixture of the tournament.
Group D rivals Portugal had lit up the tournament with a vibrant display against Denmark two days earlier, but were held to a 1-1 draw which meant Croatia went top of the section thanks to this triumph. It looked unlikely to come for much of the game, with Faith Terim's team often appearing the more comfortable in possession. They were without anyone to provide a killer pass, however, and were made to pay late on when Vlaović capped off a splendid breakaway goal.
Buoyed by a hugely vociferous support, Turkey were bereft of any semblance of cutting edge and failed to make a chance of note throughout. Their opponents, also making their finals debut, were disappointing in their own right, with many of their stellar names failing to live up to their billing.
Vlaović at least showed sufficient alertness to latch on to Tolunay Kafkas's lax back pass but was unable to find a way past the talented Rüstü Reçber. The Croatia No19 did far better the next time he was in sight of the target, though, sprinting on to Aljoša Asanović's glorious reverse ball and past Alpay Özalan before rounding the Turkey goalkeeper to score. It was a dramatic moment for a player who had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain just six months earlier.
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