|So why is a sport victory so important? It is important because you can not easily corrupt 11 people on the field and if you try, it is obvious. At the moment when Croatia had nothing to lose, since we already qualified for the Euro 2008, our national pride and sportsmanship was, where it should be.|
So why is a sport victory so important?
It is important because you can not easily corrupt 11 people on the field and if you try, it is obvious, because the whole world is watching. At the moment when Croatia had nothing to lose, since we already qualified for the Euro 2008 and would be very welcomed to play draw at Wembley, our national pride and sportsmanship was, where it should be. Politics is dirty because politicians say one thing and do totally opposite on behalf of the whole nation and for their personal gain. All the "peace treaties" that have been forced upon us while monsters were killing our unarmed families, will not be washed away with this victory...but it certainly gives us a satisfaction beyond words.
All of this did not overwhelm our collective Croatian heart. We won fair and square, with a style.
When there is no place for lying, false accusations, corrupt testimonies, organized PR crime...we won in the heart of London. 3-2. For the history books.
Russia, this one is on us. (Russia qualified into Euro 2008, because of this result). England lost this time, but let's not become arrogant. They are still an amazing team.
Slaven Bilic and our boys did it. With a style that is almost incomparable to what is usually seen on the green field. You made us proud of who we already are.
On a personal note, this is a great birthday present to me. And to you... I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
Nenad N. Bach
New York, November 21st 2007.
Doček hrvatske nogometne reprezentacije
Slaven Bilić, we dance again
Ivica Olic's interview at the Wembley stadium, London. November 21st 2007, after the game England - Croatia 2:3First of all I want to congratulate our loyal Croatian fans who came here. I heard them more clearly than 90,000 English fans. They have been our wind in the back and they carried us for 90 minutes, so we could give our best as if it was "to be or not to be" for us. We showed the English, and some of them have been very arrogant, like placing wrong Croatian coats of arms, and then they temporarily arresting some of our officials from Croatian National Soccer Association. Because of their arrogance I am really happy that we showed them who we really are, and what is that little country of Croatia. I am really thrilled as well as all Croatians around the world and everybody else who cheered for us will remember this spectacle. Therefore we have the right to expect good results at the European Championship 2008.
Translation from Croatian by Nenad N. Bach
Together we are
Style, not lacking
England Euro hopes ended in 3-2 loss to Croatia
By Mike Collett
LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - England's hopes of a place in the Euro 2008 finals disappeared at Wembley on Wednesday when they lost 3-2 to Croatia after fighting back from conceding two early goals to pull level at 2-2. Instead of hanging on to the point that would have secured their place in Austria and Switzerland, they conceded a third goal 13 minutes from time, allowing Russia to steal into second place in Group E and qualify with Croatia.
It will be the first time since 1984 that England miss out on the European Championship finals and the first time since the 1994 World Cup that they have failed to qualify for a major tournament -- putting the future of coach Steve McClaren in doubt.Former England captain David Beckham, a second-half substitute, said: "This is a big setback, not just for the players but the nation...We have to show the English way which is to fight back."
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said: "We are simply a much better team, tonight we were the better team." The home crowd was stunned after eight minutes when Scott Carson, controversially chosen in goal after making his debut in a friendly only last week, allowed a speculative shot by Niko Kranjcar to skid off him and into the net, and it looked all over when Ivica Olic doubled the lead six minutes later. England pulled level with a 56th-minute Frank Lampard penalty followed by a great goal by striker Peter Crouch, who expertly controlled a cross from halftime substitute Beckham before volleying the equaliser. Croatia, though, continued to look dangerous and won it in the 77th-minute when substitute Mladen Petric lashed in a shot from the edge of the box.
The Croatians will be among the second seeds when the draw for the finals is made in Lucerne, Switzerland on Dec. 2. Kranjcar put Croatia ahead with a curling, right-footed shot from 25 metres which Carson should have saved. The ball bounced just in front of the awkwardly-positioned keeper on the slippery surface, hit his chest and bounced past him high into the back of the net.
In a Croatia counter-attack six minutes later Eduardo da Silva broke in space on the right from the halfway line and his clever through ball found Olic, who beat the offside trap, rounded Carson and stroked the ball into the empty net.
England started the game in their usual high-tempo fashion in a 4-5-1 formation with Peter Crouch as the lone striker. As the game developed on the slippery, rain-lashed surface, Croatia looked totally in control with England's passing going astray in midfield and Crouch's headed knock-downs failing to produce meaningful attempts from any of the advancing midfielders. England, though, clawed their way back with two goals in nine minutes midway through the second half. Beckham, winning his 99th cap, and striker Jermain Defoe came on at halftime and each had a hand in the goals. Swedish referee Peter Frojdfeldt ruled that Josip Simunic had fouled Defoe after 56 minutes and awarded a penalty against the defender which Lampard converted. Beckham then created the equaliser with a perfect, trademark cross from the right which Crouch chested down before volleying wide of keeper Stipe Pletikosa.
Instead of allowing England to settle for a draw, Croatia pressed for a winner and Petric delivered, his low, angled left-footed drive flying past Carson and inside the far post.
(Editing by Rex Gowar)
Croats and Carson leave England shattered
Croatia crush England Euro dreams
England Euro hopes ended in 3-2 loss to Croatia
England are out of the European Championships because, on the night, they could not defend. McClaren's decision to introduce his previous third-choice goalkeeper, Scott Carson, for Paul Robinson was at the heart of the calamity, but to hold him solely responsible would be absolve the quartet in front of him from blame. On a night when a clean sheet would have been enough to qualify, to concede one goal was unfortunate, to concede three was, frankly, pathetic. The mitigation that McClaren had a back four missing and was on his fifth and sixth-choice central defenders does not wash. English football has to be better than this; and, when it is not, the man in charge knows what to expect.
McClaren will be judged harshly in some quarters for his failure to start with David Beckham, too, but that was not the reason for defeat here. Shaun Wright-Phillips was not to blame for the two goals that England were behind after 14 minutes and played reasonably well in the first half, and Beckham could not have withstood 90 minutes anyway. McClaren used him as an impact substitute and an impact he made, setting up the equaliser for Peter Crouch. England's problem was failing to cling to that undeserved lifeline. The third goal, from Mladen Petric, a substitute, underlined the harsh truth of the night: Croatia's attack was vastly superior to England's defence, as was their technique. The best team won: the group, the match, the psychological battle, the lot, really.
After the worst possible start, for 12 brief minutes it seemed possible that Geoff Thompson had not momentarily lost his marbles when he erroneously named a dead Hollywood star as the England head coach before the match. As Petric's shot inched wide of the desperate hand of Carson with 13 minutes remaining, it all came flooding back, though. McQueen does not escape after all, does he? He is caught on the barbed wire, freedom in sight. McClaren will know how he feels. After Crouch had equalised, his team had to resist Croatia not for 90 minutes, but a mere 25. At that point, a place in the tournament was in sight. Who knows where his next competitive match will be played now?
England's qualifying horrors
Disaster befell him from Croatia's first attack. Only eight minutes had passed, and England were looking untroubled, when Niko Kranjcar collected the ball in central midfield and attempted a speculative shot that should have been nothing more than a first feel of the ball for Carson. It pitched in front of him, and the wet surface may have contributed, but even the most active member of the goalkeepers' union would find it hard to make a stand on his behalf over what happened next.
Simply, it went through his hands and, with it, any hope that the match could be played without a cloud of migraine-inducing tension descending on McClaren's men. From that instant, Carson, too, was shot to pieces. He had three other memorable moments in the first half, not one of them positive. He was stranded for Croatia's second goal, kicked a clearance straight to a blue shirt and only parried a shot that was hit directly at him, forcing a panicked clearance and horrified howls from supporters that were now watching in anguish. It was a surprise that he came out for the second half and one can think only that McClaren wished to give the young man a chance to redeem himself, which he was doing until beaten from range by the winner, to which he got his fingertips. At the end, there were no jeers in his direction, no resounding chorus of disapproval. The boos that came were collectively aimed because no one had the heart to single out the man in the yellow shirt.
It was not as if his defenders helped. Croatia's second was an error-strewn horror show, an atrocious goal to concede. Eduardo da Silva set it up, cutting inside, untroubled by a tackle of significance. As he slipped the ball through to Ivica Olic, Wayne Bridge and Wright-Phillips were caught appealing forlornly for offside. Carson was left wickedly exposed as Olic skipped around him and tapped the ball into an empty net.
In many ways, England had no right to be back in this match at all. At half-time they were not so much dead and buried, as mummified and on display at the Millennium Dome. Yet somehow the match turned. Buoyed by necessity and the introduction of Beckham at half-time, England rose and began to walk, albeit stiffly. The merest tug on the shirt of Jermain Defoe, a substitute, by Josip Simunic yielded a penalty. Frank Lampard, so often the whipping boy, stood over the ball, called on reserves of bravery and buried his shot low to the right of Stipe Pletikosa, the goalkeeper. Beckham also rose to the occasion. It appeared to be his night once more when his perfect cross from the right found Crouch for England's equaliser.
Crouch's scoring record in an England shirt did not include a competitive goal in a match against a team ranked higher than 75th in the world. Yet here he was, living his fantasy as the man who took England to the finals. If only. McClaren not McQueen, remember, is the England head coach and when Petric scored, his journey was over as howls of furious, frustrated derision followed him down the sodden tunnel.
Beckham was last to leave, appearing to take a final look around the stadium, one short of a century of caps. English football does have its Hollywood connection but it would appear this time, even Beckham's scriptwriters, like those in Los Angeles, were on strike.
GROUP E Croatia Russia England Israel Macedonia Estonia Andorra