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Croatia march on as Poles limp out
June 17, 2008 02:20 IST
Croatia showed they are well-equipped to make a serious bid for the Euro 2008 [Images] title when their reserves swept aside Poland 1-0 in their final Group B game on Monday.
Already assured of a quarter-final against Turkey, they followed up wins over Austria and Germany [Images] with an efficient display against a poor Poland side and should have won more convincingly.
The only goal came eight minutes into the second half from Ivan Klasnic, a striker who has undergone two kidney transplants in the last 18 months.
Poland went into the game needing to win by at least two goals to have any chance and with Croatia resting nine first-choice players they could not have had a better situation.
However, the team who qualified for the tournament by finishing above Portugal in their group, looked toothless up front and lacking in midfield creativity, shortcomings that contributed to their single goal return from three games.
After 10 minutes Croatia keeper Vedran Runje had to act smartly to punch away a cross just before it reached the head of Jacek Krzynowek but that was the only time he was seriously called into action in the first half.
His opposite number Artur Boruc got busier and busier and made two good saves with his feet to deny the ever-dangerous Klasnic.
Defender Hrvoje Vejic also flashed a header just wide while Danijel Pranjic should have done better when he shot across goal when clean through.
The finishing was spot-on eight minutes into the second half though, when Pranjic crossed low from the left and Klasnic clipped a first-time shot past Boruc to give them the lead and a subsequent victory they deserved.
Complete Coverage: Euro 2008