Croatia romped to a
comfortable 3-0 victory away to Turkey in the first leg of their
Euro 2012 play-off On Friday with goals from Ivica Olic, Mario
Mandzukic and Vedran Corluka taking them to the brink of the
Boos rang around the stadium at the final whistle and the
result will pile more pressure on Turkey coach Guus Hiddink who
was already under fire after a patchy campaign in the qualifiers
in which they finished second in Group A.
Olic put the visitors ahead in the second minute with a
simple tap in from close range after goalkeeper Volkan Demirel
failed to cut out a low cross from Vedran Corluka and the
evening did not get any better for the Turks.
"Nobody can expect a result like this when they come to
Turkey," Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, who patrolled the technical
area in a smart suit and bobble hat, told reporters.
"We know Turkey is a very emotional team and we are too so
that goal lifted us."
Despite a long period of Turkey possession after the Croatia
opener, the visitors doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when
Mandzukic headed in a cross from Darijo Srna at the far post.
Turkey's misery was complete in the second half as Corluka
made it 3-0 in the 51st minute, escaping his marker and heading
in from close range from a free kick whipped in by Srna.
The return leg will be in Zagreb on November 15 although few of
the Turkish fans inside the Turk Telekom Arena will retain much
hope that their team can turn the tie around.
Goalkeeper Volkan was jeered in the latter stages of the
game and their were chants for Hiddink's resignation.
"It was almost decided in the second minute because they are
a very experienced Croatia team and they play in the strongest
leagues in Europe," Hiddink said in a post-match TV interview.
"We ouplayed them for a while but the second on the counter-attack before half-time made it very difficult to overcome them,"
he added. "It's almost decided now but maybe we will start some
new players and they will play for the honour of themselves."
Four Turkish players - Arda Turan, Sabri Sarioglu, Emre
Belozoglu and Hakan Balta - are suspended for the return.
It was an especially sweet victory for Croatia who suffered
a heart-breaking quarter-final defeat by Turkey at the 2008
finals when they were seconds away from clinching a semi-final
berth before losing the clash in Vienna on penalties.
The Turks had equalised with the last kick of extra-time and
then won the shootout.
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