Croatia v Denmark, 16 June 1996

Score3-0 to Croatia
RefereeMarc Batta
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group D
VenueHillsborough
Attendance33,671
Kick-off: 6.00pm local After initially struggling to live up to their star billing at Euro 96, Croatia took centre stage at Hillsborough. Davor Šuker took the lead role as they booked a quarter-final spot, all but ending Denmark's defence in the process. The holders simply had no answer to Šuker, who turned the second half into a one-man show. He scored from the penalty spot after Peter Schmeichel brought down Mario Stanić, then he dummied over the ball for Igor Stimać to hit the bar. He beat Claus Thomsen on the left to set up Zvonimir Boban's 81st-minute goal with a low cross to the far post and, after almost catching Schmeichel out from halfway, chipped in a third at the death with the goalkeeper caught upfield. It was all a glittering contrast to the stodgy 1-0 victory against Turkey that Miroslav Blažević's men had kicked off Group D but for a while the game promised more of the same. The physical exchanges and rugged challenges were befitting of the surroundings in a city famous for steel production, but hardly did justice to Croatia's gilded generation. That came, though, with Aljoša Asanović spraying passes from midfield with laser precision and Goran Vlaović, given a start after his match-winning cameo against Turkey, linked up well with Šuker. Šuker, having sent one drive on to the roof of the net, then selflessly fed his partner, who turned Thomas Helveg only to see his low shot held by Schmeichel. Asanović almost released Vlaović and it is testament to Croatia's ascendancy that when Stanić earned the spot kick nine minutes after half-time, it was a through ball from defender Slaven Bilić that did the damage. Šuker stepped up and, after breaking his run for a shuffle, calmly slotted to the keeper's right. It was all Croatia, and with 12 minutes remaining Igor Štimac almost doubled the lead, his clever shot striking the underside of the crossbar following a Robert Prosinečki corner. The only danger for Blažević's side was over confidence, and within a minute Brian Laudrup scrambled the ball against their upright. As if reminded of the slenderness of their lead, they swept upfield and made the game safe. This time Šuker was the provider, breaking on the left before crossing for Boban to seal a deserved victory. Denmark's humiliation was complete when Šuker collected a sumptuous crossfield pass from Asanović 25 metres out and advanced before chipping Schmeichel, who was struggling to recover his ground after an ill-advised foray forward.

3  Croatia

Manager: Miroslav Blažević

0  Denmark

Manager: Richard Møller Nielsen

Goals:

Davor Suker penalty 52 P
Zvonimir Boban 83 G
Davor Suker 89 G

Goals:

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Dražen Ladić
Defender Slaven Bilic
Defender Nikola Jerkan
Defender Igor Stimac
Midfielder Aljoša Asanović
Midfielder Zvonimir Boban (captain)
Midfielder Robert Jarni
Midfielder Robert Prosinecki
Midfielder Mario Stanić
Forward Davor Suker (captain)
Forward Goran Vlaović

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel
Defender Thomas Helveg
Defender Jes Høgh
Defender Claus Thomsen
Midfielder Henrik Larsen
Midfielder Brian Steen Nielsen
Midfielder Kim Vilfort
Midfielder/Forward Michael Laudrup (captain)
Forward Brian Laudrup

Substitutions:

Nikola Jurcevic for Goran Vlaović 82
Zvonimir Soldo for Zvonimir Boban 83
Mladen Mladenovic for Robert Prosinecki 88

Substitutions:

Jacob Laursen for Thomas Helveg 46
Mikkel Beck for Kim Vilfort 58
Stig Tøfting for Brian Steen Nielsen 68

Cards:

Mario Stanić 20 Y
Robert Prosinecki 23 Y
Goran Vlaović 39 Y

Cards:

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Tonci Gabric
Goalkeeper Marijan Mrmić
Defender Elvis Brajkovic
Defender Dario Simić
Midfielder Nikola Jurcevic
Midfielder Mladen Mladenovic
Midfielder Zvonimir Soldo
Forward Alen Bokšić
Forward Igor Cvitanovic
Forward Igor Pamić

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Mogens Krogh
Defender Jes Høgh
Defender Jacob Laursen
Defender Lars Olsen
Defender Torben Piechnik
Defender Jens Risager
Midfielder Allan Nielsen
Midfielder Stig Tøfting
Forward Søren Andersen
Forward Mikkel Beck