Euro 2012 - Croatia see off Turkey to progress
Tue, 15 Nov 20:04:00 2011
Croatia coasted into the Euro 2012 finals after a goalless draw with Turkey ensured a 3-0 aggregate win on a freezing night in Zagreb.
Guus Hiddink, who has now stepped down as Turkey coach, admitted before kick-off that his side faced an "almost impossible" task to qualify.
But there were some early Croatia nerves when Selcuk Inan struck the post in the fifth minute before goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa made a superb reaction save from Colin Kazim-Richards's rebound.
Pletikosa denied Hamit Altintop with an impressive save in the second half but Turkey were never good enough to trouble Slaven Bilic's side, who stroll into next year's European Championships courtesy of a 3-0 aggregate win.
Following their dramatic quarter-final defeat to Turkey in Euro 2008, when Croatia were 1-0 up with a minute to play before losing out on penalties, Croatia seemed intent to avenge that heart-breaking loss.
But Turkey, mindful of their need to inflict some early damage, started well and Inan's early chance - and Kazim-Richards's subsequent miss - sent out an early warning sign.
Croatia were uncharacteristically unconvincing at the back as Turkey applied the early pressure.
But Croatia weathered the storm and enjoyed the better chances as Luka Modric was allowed to exert his influence.
Turkey were full of intent at the start of the second half and Altintop almost found the back of the net from 20 yards, but was denied by the right hand of Pletikosa, who yet again kept Turkey at bay.
Croatia, who defended intelligently throughout, came closest to scoring on the night but it mattered little in the end as Bilic's side eased into Euro 2012 with plenty to spare.
Hiddink ponders next step