Republic of Ireland v Croatia, 10 June 2012

Score3-1 to Croatia
RefereeBjörn Kuipers
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group C
VenueStadion Miejski, Poznan
Attendance39,550
Kick-off: 8.45pm local Assistant referees: Sander van Roekel (Netherlands) Erwin Zeinstra (Netherlands) Fourth official: Viktor Shvetsov (Ukraine) Additional assistant referees: Pol van Boekel (Netherlands) Richard Liesveld (Netherlands) Man of the Match: Mario Mandžukić (Croatia) Mario Mandžukić struck twice as Croatia opened their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with a stylish victory against the Republic of Ireland. A match played in incessant rain for long periods produced anything but a damp squib. Mandžukić, a focal point for Croatia throughout, struck as early as the third minute – the sixth-fastest goal in EURO history. Ireland rallied to level through centre-back Sean St Ledger, but Mandžukić grabbed his second after Nikica Jelavić had reclaimed the lead and Croatia never looked like slipping up from there. Enjoying their first experience of a UEFA European Championship in 24 years, Ireland's fans were in boisterous mood despite the deluge in Poznan, but Croatia soon rained on their parade. Ireland failed to clear a corner, Darijo Srna's cross came off the back of Stephen Ward and – despite an untimely stumble – Mandžukić guided a precise header to Shay Given's left, with the goalkeeper's desperate clawed attempt not enough to keep it out. The goal subdued the large contingent of fans dressed in green and Nikica Jelavić was nearly in straight away for a second, only to be denied by a wonderfully timed challenge from Richard Dunne. However, the Irish supporters soon rediscovered their voices as their team regained their composure. Damien Duff shot wide, Keith Andrews had a free-kick blocked and then, in the 19th minute, they levelled. Vedran Čorluka – only passed fit on the eve of the match – bundled over Kevin Doyle on the left flank and from the resulting Aiden McGeady free-kick, St Ledger lost Čorluka at the back post to head firmly past Stipe Pletikosa. Croatia came back at Giovanni Trapattoni's men, though. Given had to beat away Ivan Perišić's drive, Jelavić headed just wide and Luka Modrić fired straight at the Ireland No1. The pressure was building, and Ireland's defence soon burst. Another half-cleared corner came to Modrić. His tame effort ricocheted into Ward who could only stab the ball towards his own goal – his second inadvertent assist of the night – and Jelavić was waiting to flick a deft finish over the onrushing Given. If the goal came at a bad time for Ireland, just before half-time, Croatia were not about to let the lead slip this time. Three minutes after the break, Perišić's invitation of a cross was met with glee by Mandžukić, and his powerful header hit the post, before striking the prone Given and cannoning in. Croatia were playing on the break now, inviting Ireland on to them. Trapattoni brought on Jon Walters and Simon Cox, but apart from set pieces, Ireland were looking forlorn going forward. As their belief ebbed, Croatia reassumed their hold on possession. Ivan Rakitić shot narrowly wide and Mandžukić was a constant threat. Ireland supplied some late pressure, Andrews in particular going close with a couple of headers, but Croatia were good value for the three points and have the early lead in Group C after Italy and Spain's draw earlier in the day.

1  Republic of Ireland

Manager: Giovanni Trapattoni

3  Croatia

Manager: Slavan Bilic

Goals:

Sean St Ledger-Hall 19 G

Goals:

Mario Mandžukić 3 G
Nikica Jelavic 43 G
Mario Mandžukić 48 G

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Shay Given
Defender John O'Shea
Defender/Centre back Richard Dunne
Defender/Midfielder Stephen Ward
Midfielder Keith Andrews
Midfielder Damien Duff
Midfielder Aiden McGeady
Midfielder Glenn Whelan
Forward Kevin Doyle
Forward Robbie Keane (captain)

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa
Defender Vedran Corluka
Defender Darijo Srna (captain)
Defender Ivan Strinic
Midfielder Luka Modrić
Midfielder Ivan Rakitić
Midfielder Ognjen Vukojevic
Midfielder/Forward Ivan Perišić
Forward Nikica Jelavic

Substitutions:

Jon Walters for Kevin Doyle 53
Simon Cox for Aiden McGeady 54
Shane Long for Robbie Keane 75

Substitutions:

Niko Kranjcar for Nikica Jelavic 72
Eduardo for Ivan Perišić 89
Tomislav Dujmovic for Ivan Rakitić 90

Cards:

Keith Andrews 45 Y

Cards:

Luka Modrić 53 Y
Niko Kranjcar 84 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper David Forde
Goalkeeper Kieren Westwood
Defender Stephen Kelly
Defender Paul McShane
Defender Darren O'Dea
Midfielder Darron Gibson
Midfielder Paul Green
Midfielder Stephen Hunt
Midfielder/Forward James McClean
Midfielder/Forward Jon Walters
Forward Simon Cox
Forward Shane Long

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Ivan Kelava
Goalkeeper Danijel Subašić
Defender Jurica Buljat
Defender Josip Simunić
Defender Domagoj Vida
Defender/Midfielder Šime Vrsaljko
Midfielder Milan Badelj
Midfielder Tomislav Dujmovic
Midfielder Niko Kranjcar
Midfielder Danijel Pranjic
Forward Eduardo
Forward Nikola Kalinić

11v11 match preview

Ireland are possibly the least gifted side in the tournament, but coach Trappatoni has concentrated on creating a disciplined, defensive-minded unit which wll frustrate opponents. They will be seeking to win this game and get 0-0s in their other games in a valiant but probably doomed attempt to get out of this group.

Croatia depend heavily on Luka Modric who is exhausted after a long season with Tottenham. They have a ponderous defence but could be dangerous on the counter-attack.