Disappointing start for the Irish, as Croatia win in Poznan
Republic of Ireland 1-3 Croatia
Sunday 10 June 2012
Republic of Ireland suffered a hugely disappointing start to their Euro 2012 campaign as they lost 3-1 in their opening match to Croatia.
An unfortunate own goal from goalkeeper Shay Given sealed the Republic's fate in Poznan and summed up their night, with Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic also scoring for the Croatians.
Sean St Ledger did find the net for Giovanni Trapattoni's men but in the end it was poor defending that cost them dear. In fact they were behind after only three minutes.
Darijo Srna reached the by-line much too easily before his deflected cut-back was headed home from long distance by Mandzukic with Given, winning his 123rd cap for Ireland despite fears about a knee injury, scrambling in vain across his goal.
The Irish, who have the oldest and most experienced squad at the Euros, survived that early test however, to equalise within 16 minutes through unlikely hero St Ledger.
The Leicester City defender, who has never played Premier League football, did superbly to out-muscle Vedran Corluka from an Aiden McGeady free-kick in the 19th minute and twist his neck to head home from six yards.
It was a special moment for a player who was born in Birmingham and started his career at Peterborough - but who qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather.
But that moment of joy didn't last long as the Irish found themselves 2-1 down three minutes before half-time.
The Republic defence failed to deal with a Luka Modric shot - and then Stephen Ward sliced a horrible clearance straight to Everton's Nikica Jelavic, who made no mistake from close range. The Irish claimed offside, but in vain.
It was 3-1 by the 49th minute, and again there was more than an element of bad luck - Mandzukic's excellent hitting the post but then cannoning back into the net off Shay Given's head. There was no way back from that.
Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, McGeady (Cox 54), Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle (Walters 53), Keane (Long 75)
Substitutes not used Westwood, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea, Green, McClean, Forde
Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Vukojevic, Rakitic (Dujmovic 90), Modric, Perisic (Eduardo 89), Mandzukic, Jelavic (Kranjcar 72)
Substitutes not used Kelava, Simunic, Buljat, Pranjic, Badelj, Vrsaljko, Kalinic, Vida, Subasic.