Wins for Germany and Croatia
After Switzerland's opening day defeat, the other joint
hosts also came away empty-handed on day two at UEFA EURO 2008.
Austria lost to Croatia by the only goal of the game in the first
Group B fixture, before three-time European champions Germany
defeated Poland 2-0 later on Sunday evening.
Austria 0-1 Croatia
Goal: 0-1 Luka Modric 4 (pen)
The pivotal moment arrived as early as the fourth minute when Croatia striker Ivica Olic was fouled in the box, leaving the way clear for star-in-the-making Luka Modric to net from the penalty spot. The early setback left the home side reeling, and 27 minutes had been played before Prodl brought the crowd to life with a header at the Croatian goal. Openings were otherwise scarce as coach Slaven Bilic's disciplined side stamped their authority on proceedings. The closing stages finally produced a flurry of chances as the Austrians threw caution to the wind, but Vastic, Ivanschitz and Kienast all failed to level.
Germany 2-0 Poland
Goals: Lukas Podolski 20, 73
Germany, without a win at a EURO since the 1996 final, began setting the record straight on 20 minutes when Lukas Podolski opened his European championship account with a tap-in. The team which finished third at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ on home soil certainly looked in fine form at the start and could easily have led through Gomez and Podolski, but Joachim Low's men chose to sit on their lead and the Poles gradually assumed midfield control. An equaliser looked a distinct possibility for a spell after the restart, but Podolski's second of the night ended the match as a contest a quarter of an hour from time.
Pick of the day
Germany - Poland: The Germans shot off the blocks, strike duo Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez springing the offside trap after just four minutes, only for Gomez to squander a gilt-edged chance with the goal gaping. The omission was rectified a quarter of an hour later as Gomez released Klose with a ball behind the Polish defence. For the second time, two Germans bore down on the opposing goal with only the keeper to beat, but on this occasion Klose looked up and skilfully found Munich team-mate Podolski, who applied the simplest of close-range finishes.
Quote of the day
"We're desperately disappointed. We were hoping for more from the first match. We knew we were well prepared and ready to go the full 90 minutes. The team went out and proved that. We lost our shape after conceding the early goal, Croatia were the better team for 30 minutes, but we dominated after that. The penalty was the worst thing imaginable for a host nation. I decided to leave our tactics unchanged to start with, but then we took a lot of risks in the last 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it didn't lead to the goal we deserved." Austria coach Josef Hickersberger.
"We concentrated hard right from the start and made very few errors. The first goal was good for us and gave us confidence, although we should have pushed on and added a second after half-time. It remained tense while the lead was so tight, but it was basically over after we scored the second. At the end of the day, I think we deserved the win." Germany captainMichael Ballack.
The numbers game
6 - Germany's winless streak at the EURO since sealing the European crown in 1996. The unwanted run was ended by the 2-0 success against Poland.
1. Germany, 3 points, +2
2. Croatia, 3 points, +1
3. Austria, 0 points, -1
4. Poland, 0 points, -2
France, the Netherlands, Italy and Romania take centre stage in the first round of matches in Group C. The first game (18.00 CET) pits France against Romania. With Zinedine Zidane long gone from the international stage, French hopes of creativity and game-winning moments of magic rest on Franck Ribery. Romania are widely regarded as underdogs, but their big-name opponents will underestimate coach Victor Piturca's men at their peril. The Romanians won nine of their 12 qualifiers, including a 1-0 victory over group rivals the Netherlands.
The Dutch face Italy in the day's second fixture. The FIFA World Cup holders are without captain and defensive inspiration Fabio Cannavaro. The attacking trio of van der Vaart, Sneijder and van Nistelrooij could have the edge over a reconstituted Italian rearguard.
Nevertheless, it is hard to identify clear favourites in the section. France, Netherlands and Italy rate among the continent's leading sides, all with realistic hopes of lifting the trophy. However, each of the star-studded ensembles has their work cut out just to survive the group stage.