Croatia hold Turkey for EURO berth
It was sweet revenge for Croatia who were knocked out of EURO 2008 at the quarter-finals stage on penalties by their play-off rivals. Ivica Olic, Mario Mandzukic and Vedran Corluka did the damage to give the Croatians a priceless win away from home in Istanbul on Friday and ensure Slaven Bilic's side had the upper hand going into the return leg in Zagreb that finished goalless today.
And despite lacking the heroics of their first leg outing Bilic's men held on to maintain Croatia's unbeaten record on home soil going back to 2008.
Turkey pushed hard early as they tried to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the finals co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine next year with Colin Kazim Richards missing a chance to give the visitors the lead after eight minutes.
Minutes later an effort from Galatasary midfielder Selcuk Inan bounced off the post as Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa dived to save. Eintracht Frankfurt's centre-back Gordon Schildenfeld missed a chance to increase Croatia's aggregate lead after 19 minutes when his header went wide.
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric missed a shot on 27 minutes, and four minutes later it was the turn of Sevilla's Ivan Ratikic, with Mandzukic attempting to break the deadlock from ten metres out when Modric was better placed to score.
Turkish chances smothered
Croatia dominated the second half closing down all Turkish efforts to break through. Bayern Munich midfielder Danijel Pranjic had looked threatening with a mazy run into the visitors' penalty box with 20 minutes to go, but Bayer Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak blocked his path to the goalmouth.
Rakitic, Dinamo Zagreb veteran Josip Simunic and captain Darijo Srna all had shots on goal in the dying minutes of the game, but the crowd still cheered as the fans were celebrating Croatia's third consecutive European finals despite the missed attempts.