Kovac gives Croatia 1-0 win over Estonia
Wed Jun 11, 2003
By Kristin Marmei
TALLINN, June 11 (Reuters) - Niko Kovac gave Croatia a 1-0 win over
hosts Estonia in a Euro 2004 qualifier on Wednesday, moving his team
to within one point of Group Eight leaders Bulgaria.
Croatia immediately took a firm grip against their Baltic opponents
at the A Le Coq Arena, but Estonia goalkeeper Mart Poom kept the
visitors at bay with an inspired display until Kovac headed in a
corner in the 77th minute.
"This was a very hard game as Estonia is a high-class team," Croatia
coach Otto Baric told reporters. "But Croatia deserved to win this
Estonia midfielder Marko Kristal was forced to make a goal-line save
after five minutes when a Croatian corner created a scramble in
front of the goal, and Poom made a flurry of saves to frustrate the
But Croatia kept pounding away at the Estonian goal until Kovac rose
above the defence to head in the winning goal from close range.
Estonia fought back in the dying minutes, substitute Vjatsheslav
Zahovaiko forcing Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa to make an
Estonia coach Arno Pijpers said he expected Croatia to give his team
a rough ride, adding that his men were simply trying to fight off
the Croatian onslaught until the dying minutes.
"The last 15 minutes was the kind of game we should have played all
along," he said. "Poom was in very good shape."
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