Croatia through, Austria survive
Croatia have joined Portugal as the second team through to the
UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals, while a last-gasp strike preserved
co-hosts Austria's dream of a place in the last eight. By
contrast, 1996 European champions Germany crashed 2-1 to the Croats
and are by no means certain of making the next round.
Croatia 2-1 Germany
Goals: Darijo Srna 24, Ivica Olic 62 (Croatia), Lukas Podolski 79 (Germany)
Pre-tournament favourites Germany suffered a major setback in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia, as coach Joachim Low's men never came close to reproducing the convincing form they showed in their opener against Poland. By contrast, the alert and disciplined Croats took a deserved 24th-minute lead, Darijo Srna beating keeper Jens Lehmann with a close-range conversion from a Danijel Pranjic cross.
Srna and Ivica Olic could easily have doubled the advantage
before the break, but the Eastern Europeans had to wait until the
62nd minute to stretch their lead, Olic stabbing home after Ivan
Rakitic hit the post with a deflected cross. Lukas Podolski pulled
one back for the Germans with 11 minutes remaining, but the death
knell finally sounded for Low's men when sub Bastian
Schweinsteiger was dismissed for retaliation in stoppage time.
Outstanding Croatia centre-half Josip Simunic was the unofficial
man of the match.
Austria 1-1 Poland
Goals:Ivica Vastic 90+3 (Austria),Roger Guerreiro 30 (Poland)
A last-gasp Austria strike prevented them being the second host nation to make a premature exit from the tournament. Coach Josef Hickersberger's men really ought to have taken the lead in a pulsating first quarter of an hour, but Harnik and Leitgeb squandered gilt-edged chances.
After that, the seemingly immutable laws of the game dictated
that the side on the back foot should take the lead, Roger
Guerreiro netting a scrappy goal to hand Poland the lead on the
half-hour. The much-improved Poles seemed to have victory within
their grasp in the second period, before a stoppage time
"Miracle of Vienna" when veteran Ivica Vastic levelled
from the penalty spot.
Pick of the day
Austria - Poland: The Austrians' fast and furious opening spell against Poland was so nearly rewarded on 12 minutes after Korkmaz' sublime defence-splitting pass from his own half, releasing Harnik for a free run at goal. The Werder Bremen striker attempted to wrong-foot Poland keeper Boruc, but the outstanding shot-stopper stood his ground and deflected the ball wide of the upright with his lower body.
Quote of the day
"We never really got going. The Croats were more aggressive, they closed us down well, and our movement was poor. We may have been guilty of thinking we were already there. We were a couple of percent worse in every area than we were against Poland. Now we have no choice but to win our last match against Austria." Germany captain Michael Ballack
The numbers game
1 - Austria scored their first goal at the European championships in 48 years, and also sealed their first-ever point at the continental showdown.
1. Croatia, 6 points, +2
2. Germany, 3 points, +1
3. Austria, 1 points, -1
4. Poland, 1 points, -2
In Group C, the tournament's proverbial Group of Death, FIFA World Cup™ holders Italy face the prospect of an ignominious first-stage exit. Following a 3-0 opening match defeat to the Netherlands, Roberto Donadoni's men urgently need a win against Romania (18.00 CET). However, a scoreless draw with France means the Romanians have preserved their hopes of a quarter-final berth despite the seemingly overwhelming odds.
In the second match of the day (20.45 CET), the Netherlands take on the French, who expect Barcelona hitman Thierry Henry back after injury. The teams last met in a UEFA EURO eight years ago, the Dutch winning 3-2. Gallic enforcer Patrick Vieira is the sole survivor of that group-phase encounter.
Have your say
Switzerland's defeat on Wednesday means one of the co-hosts is already out of the tournament. Can joint hosts Austria beat Germany and make the quarter-finals?