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subota, 4. lipnja 2011.

Croatia Wins 2-1 In Come From Behind Victory At Poljud Stadium

Some of the 35,000 fans who showed up at Poljud Stadion.

I watched this game yesterday and was glad to see Croatia dig down and come from behind to get 3 points against Georgia in this Euro 2012 Qualifying match. Croatia lost their last meeting with Georgia in March on a last minute goal in what was a lacklustre effort in Georgia.  This time around they were even missing Niko Kranjcar, who has been one of the better performing players over the past few qualifying matches. After about 70 minutes of the match played yesterday, (Including 3 hit goal posts) it was beginning to look not too favourable for the "Vatreni'.  In soccer (Nogomet) games a win is 3 points, and a tie is 1 point.  Down 1-0 in a very tight match with less than 15 minutes to play, it was beginning to look like another upset in the making.  But they managed to suck it in and do what had to be done, scoring 2 goals just a couple of minutes apart. There is still 4 games to play in qualifying, with an all-important game still left to play with the Greece, but this win I hope will give them the kick in the ass that they needed to never give up and get things done.

A few of the many soccer jersey clad fans having some fun before the match.

I saw a match played at Poljud Stadium in Split on my last visit to Croatia, and based on videos and images I've come across, (Like the one above) I regret that I wasn't able to be there with my people, as the saying goes, to watch the match and enjoy the days events. There was plenty of Cro soccer jerseys, cold beer and eats all over the city.  Anyway, more on the match below and on the attached  links.


SPLIT, Croatia (Reuters) – Crowd favourite Nikola Kalinic ended Croatia’s 16-year wait for a victory at the Poljud stadium when he scored the winner in a 2-1 comeback triumph over Georgia in a Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday.

The 23-year-old Blackburn Rovers striker, who came through the ranks at Hajduk Split, completed Croatia’s recovery with a 78th-minute effort that sent the home crowd into raptures.

“The winning goal will come as a tremendous confidence boost after I was starved of first-team football at Blackburn for the best part of this season,” a delighted Kalinic told Croatian television.

“The most important thing, though, is we fought back after falling behind to earn three priceless points.”

The victory lifted Croatia to the top of Group F with 13 points from six matches, ahead of Greece who have 11 from five and Israel who are on 10 points from six games.

The Croatians had drawn six and lost three matches at Poljud since first playing there as an independent nation in 1995 and the jinx seemed set to continue when they fell behind against the run of play.

Georgia winger David Siradze was given too much room to operate on the right flank and Jaba Kankava ghosted in at the near post to head his pinpoint cross past Croatia keeper Vedran Runje after 17 minutes.

Full highlights of the match


The home side, repeatedly frustrated by a packed Georgian defence, hit the woodwork three times before Mario Mandzukic equalised in the 76th minute with a neat finish from the edge of the six-yard box.

Second-half substitutes Ivan Klasnic and Tomislav Dujmovic carved Georgia open with a delightful one-two and the latter squared the ball for Mandzukic to steer it past keeper Giorgi Loria with a deft touch.

Roared on by 35,000 fans who lit flares and set off fireworks, the Croatians went marauding down the right flank almost straight from the restart and got their reward through some superb individual skill from their forwards.

Former Arsenal striker Eduardo teased and taunted three defenders before threading a superb low cross for Kalinic to slide in and drill the ball past Loria.

“I have to congratulate my players for showing resilience and character after a poor first half to keep their composure and claw out a very important win from the jaws of defeat,” Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said.

Photogallery of Croatia soccer fans coming to Split from even other areas of Europe HERE.

“It’s difficult to break down teams like Georgia who defend with 10 men behind the ball but the substitutions paid off and so did the second-half strategy to play the ball wide and make deep runs into the penalty box whenever possible.

“We were shaken after falling behind and the players were too impatient in the first half but I believe we are now in a good position to qualify for the finals,” added Bilic.

Croatia dig deep to down Georgia

Slaven Bilić's men hit the woodwork three times after falling behind early on but remained patient to send themselves top of qualifying Group F


Croatia fought back from a goal down to exact revenge on Georgia and climb to the summit of Group F.

Slaven Bilić's men suffered a 1-0 loss away against the same opponents in their previous UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in March and their supporters must have feared the worst when Jaba Kankava put Georgia ahead after 17 minutes. Having never previously won a competitive game at Stadion Poljud the omens looked worrying for the hosts, but Mario Mandžukić levelled with 14 minutes remaining and Nikola Kalinić struck the winner moments later.

In the older historic part of Split, some of the fans anxiously awaitng the match.

Dedicating their performance to team-mate Drago Gabrić, who is recovering from a car accident, Croatia made an uncertain start and were stung when Kankava met David Siradze's cross from the right with a fine header. That prompted a spirited response from the home side, Luka Modrić unleashing an effort that Giorgi Loria was just about able to push onto a post.

Eduardo then nodded against the crossbar after the break, before Kalinić forced a double save from Loria and Srna struck the woodwork from a superb free-kick. Croatia were not to be denied, however, and they finally restored parity when substitutes Ivan Klasnić and Tomislav Dujmović combined down the left and Dujmović crossed for Mandžukić to finish. Two minutes later another replacement completed the turnaround, Kalinić making the most of Eduardo's right-wing cross.

"It was wonderful to score the decisive goal," said the match-winner. "It was a difficult game and it was hard to break down the Georgia defence, especially after they scored and put men behind the ball."

"In the first half we couldn't break through, but I was stressing that we needed to be patient," added Bilić, whose side next travel to Malta on 2 September, when Georgia host Latvia. "Patience was crucial as we were constantly attacking and waiting for a goal. We showed our character."

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