Classy Croatia upset favourites Germany

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Austria, June 13: Croatia assumed pole position in Group B this evening with a 2-1 win over Euro 2008 favourites Germany in Klagenfurt.a goal in each half from Darijo Srna and Ivica Olic punished a disappointing German outfit, who were second best for much of the 90 minutes.
Lukas Podolski did pull a goal back for Germany on 78 minutes with a powerful shot from close range, but Croatia hung on as the Germans finished with 10 men.


Midway through the first half the ball found its way into the back of the net in the 22nd minute when Germany striker Mario Gomez slotted home past Stipe Pletikosa but the offside flag had already gone up against the Stuttgart man well beforehand.The deadlock was broken for real just two minutes after that incident though, when Croatia went ahead through Srna after neat build-up play on the left. Eventually Daniel Pranjic flung over a superb cross and Srna got ahead of Marcell Jansen at the far post to poke the ball home from six yards.
Germany responded well and Jansen's cross from the left was headed over by Gomez, before Niko Kranjcar wasted a golden chance to double Croatia's lead.


Olic managed to head down into the path of the Portsmouth man, but Kranjcar blasted the ball over. michael Ballack's free-kick from 25 yards tested Pletikosa, but the Croatian stopper blocked the effort with both hands as Germany attempted to up the tempo.


German centre-back Christophe Metzelder then headed over from a corner, before Olic layed on another chance for Kranjcar, but the midfielder could only rifle his shot straight at Jens Lehmann from 12 yards.


Germany started brightly in the second half without carving through the Croatian defence and they were made to pay when Croatia, albeit slighty fortuitously, made it 2-0 on 62 minutes. Ivan Rakitic swung over a cross from the right, which was deflected by a German defender on to the near post, leaving Olic with a simple tap in with Lehmann stranded.

Germany kept throwing bodies forward though and when Ballack headed down a hopeful ball into the box, Podolski was on hand to smash it beyond Pletikosa.


And in stoppage time Sub Bastian Schweinsteiger was sent-off after pushing Jerko Leko - an angry reaction after a challenge from the Croatian.

 

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