The Croatian press were united in their grief for the national football side on Saturday following the team's cruel quarter-final exit from UEFA EURO 2008 at the hands of Turkey in a penalty shootout on Friday.

The Croats had taken the lead in the 119th minute only for the Turks to level in the second minute of time added on and then progress to the last four after a 3-1 win on penalties.

"It is terrible, tragic, unbelievable!!" cried daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija. "Croatia were the best side in a match which was more like a real battle, it was epic and a marathon," it continued.

Like the two main newspapers Vecernji List and Jutarnji List, Dalmacija published on its front page a large photograph of Croat coach Slaven Bilic consoling the Kovac brothers, Robert and captain Niko. "We are inconsolable, but lets not despair. Because this team has a future and we can be justifiably proud of them," added the newspaper.

The same photo on the front page of Vecernji is titled "HEADS HIGH!" in capital letters. Other photographs published on the inside pages show the shock on the faces of the supporters both inside the Ernst-Happel Stadium in Vienna and in the main square in Zagreb.

"Those damn seconds!", yelled Vecernji. "That should have been a fairytale. One minute separated Croats from ecstasy. But the evening will remain one of the saddest of all time", it wept whilst adding "the Croatians were pushed into the ravine by a sporting injustice. Our boys deserved to be in the semi-finals but football was transformed into a tragedy," deplored Vecernji.

Jutarnji List said that the players would remain in their heart despite the desperate finish. "They didn't succeed, but we love them anyway. It was a bad ending to a wonderful story."