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Croatia sealed their place in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals as goals from Darijo Srna and Ivica Olić earned a famous win against Germany that took Slaven Bilić's side three points clear at the top of Group B.
With both teams having won their first game on Sunday each knew victory in Klagenfurt would all but secure a ticket to the last eight, and it was Croatia who struck first midway through the first half thanks to the determination of Srna. The points looked safe when Olić tapped in just past the hour, yet Lukas Podolski set up a tense finale with his third goal of the tournament eleven minutes from time.
Croatia, whose only previous success against the Mannschaft had come in the quarter-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup – a match in which Bilić played – held on with Germany losing Bastian Schweinsteiger to a late red card. Joachim Löw's men were left needing a point from Monday's meeting with Austria to continue in the tournament.
While the Germany coach kept faith with the side that served him well against Poland, Bilić brought in midfielder Ivan Rakitić for Mladen Petrić and pushed Niko Kranjčar into a more advanced role. Neither team were prepared to take risks in a tense opening and the first scoring opportunity did not materialise until the 24th minute – and from it, Croatia took the lead.
The ball was worked neatly down the left for Danijel Pranjić to deliver a superb deep cross which Srna, arriving ahead of his marker Marcell Jansen at the far post, steered past Jens Lehmann. Germany sought an immediate response with Mario Gómez heading over from Jansen's cross, although Kranjčar might have doubled the Croatian advantage only to volley Olić's knockdown over the bar.
Germany captain Michael Ballack came more into the game, seeking to drive his side forward with half-time approaching and stinging the palms of Stipe Pletikosa with a powerful free-kick, before Christoph Metzelder nodded a Torsten Frings corner too high. Yet it was Croatia who finished the opening period the stronger, with Kranjčar wasting another presentable chance as he volleyed Olić's pass straight at Lehmann.
Löw replaced Jansen with winger David Odonkor at half-time, with Clemens Fritz and Philipp Lahm moving to right and left-back respectively as the coach tried to inject pace into his attack. The ploy brought Löw's team more possession but they still found it tough to carve out clear opportunities and fell further behind two minutes past the hour, albeit in unfortunate fashion.
Lehmann reacted sharply to push Rakitić's deflected right-wing centre on to his near post, the ball having struck Podolski, but Olić moved fastest to tap the rebound into an unguarded net. If that goal seemed to be the prelude to a comfortable last half-hour for Croatia, a Germany side who were running out of ideas suddenly halved the deficit with Podolski volleying in Ballack's knockdown from a Lahm cross.
Despite that revival of ambition, the Mannschaft failed to mount a late charge and a disappointing day was completed two minutes into added time when substitute Schweinsteiger was sent off for reacting to a challenge from Jerko Leko.
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