Euro 2012 Liveblog: Croatia v. Republic of Ireland

Welcome to our continued liveblog coverage of Euro 2012. We go to the second matchup of group C in Poznan. I’m once again coming to you from the Vic, to chronicle the thrust and parry of Slaven Bilic’s Croatia against the defensive organization of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland side.

Lineups and other delights after the jump. Let’s get to it!

Croatia: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic; Rakitic, Vukojevic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic, Jelavic

Republic of Ireland:Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St. Ledger, Ward, Duff, Andrews ,Whelan, McGeady, Keane, Doyle

Ireland will play a 4-4-1-1 with Keane the playmaker for Doyle, while Croatia look to be a standard 4-4-2. If there’s a surprise with either side, it’s Kranjcar’s exclusion from the Croatia XI.

Pregame: it’s tunnel time, with both teams getting ready to walk out for the anthems. Ireland in their white and green jackets and white shorts, Croatia in all blue.

Pregame note: This match will be hard to liveblog when I’m facing away in local Poznan tradition.

Anthems: Robbie Keane wins the most enthusiastic award, while Bilic takes most badass.

Pennants have been exchanged, the coin has been flipped, and Croatia will kick off.

1: Croatia starts with some header tennis before fouling Andrews. The Irish work possession to a cross headed wide by Doyle.

3: the Croats work down the left, lacking a killer ball, but still winning the first corner.

Goal!!!!!!! the Croatian corner is bumbled along the box, and the clearance is headed in by Mandzukic. Given really should have gotten there. Croatia 1-0 Ireland

5: Croatia have been continuing to boss possession. A furtive attempt to get forward by Doyle is quickly cut out.

7: ireland settle the ball down for a bit. A long ball forward by Dunne is knocked down by Keane for Duff to take Ireland’s first shot from around the D

9: Ireland win successive throws down the right channel

10: Ireland coming back into it. Duff swings in a cross from the right, but Doyle’s header is blocked.

11: Doyle earns a free kick just outside the area after Keane dummies him through. Duff taps back to Andrews, who fired into the wall and then wide left.

14: Given races out to collect a Croatian through ball, and Ireland set up again. Now settling play and passing around. A long ball up to McGeady is easily dealt with.

15: Croatia have been oddly quiet since the goal. Ireland mixing short possession passing with long balls forward.

16: a bit of header tennis in midfield leads to Jelavic harassing Dunne into a foul. The resultant free kick is headed behind by Ireland for a corner, which is this time easily cleared.

19: Corluka fouls McGeady down the left. Goal!!!!!!! 1-1! St Ledger heads home the ball from McGeady at the far post.

21: down the other end, Dunne clears a tantalizing cross away from Jelavic. Corner to Croatia is played short but blasted wide.

22: Great save from Given after some intricate passing from Croatia results in a shot from outside the area.

23: Keane and McGeady interplay down the left before a cross from the latter is easily cleared away. O’Shea blown for a foul on Mandzukic.

26: Modric gallops down the center, but Mandzukic’s attempts at a one-two in the area are easily cleared.

28: Corluka is booked for dissent after barging Doyle over down the left. McGeady’s cross this time is just a bit too far for Ward.

30: Croatia with a metronomic spell of possession that ends in two crosses by Srna eased away.

32: Ireland pass it around, but can’t find a final ball as Andrews passes it away.

33: Modric rips a shot from behind the D that Given catches at head height.

35: Croatia continue to knock it around before Andrews intercepts the entry ball.

36: Mandzukic heads on to Jelavic, who flicks over to Perasic, who blasts wide from just inside the area.

38: Croatia win a corner after some nice work down the right channel.

40: Jelavic heads wide from a tantalizing cross from the Croatian left back.

42: Duff clears from Srna’s cross after some nice work from Modric to work space.

43: Croatia get a corner from nice interplay from Modric, Perasic, and Srna. Ireland fail to effectively clear, modric’s shot is blocked, and Srna plays to Jelavic, who’s miles offside. The flag stays down, though and it’s 2-1 Croatia. and we have a flare on the pitch.

45: Andrews is booked for a cynical challenge on Mandzukic.

45+2: just saw a replay. As Ward played the ball in, and not Srna, Jelavic was in fact onside. Perasic’s cross is headed over by Mandzukic to end the half

HALF TIME: Croatia 2-1 Republic of Ireland

Both teams had spells where they dominated possession. Sloppy defensive work, especially on set pieces, have been Ireland’s downfall this far.

And we’re off again. Ireland turn over possession quickly, with Croatia eager to play short passes

47: Goal!!!!! 3-1! Perasic’s cross is met by Mandzukic. Given pushes it into th post, but his dive leads to Given heading into his own net.

49: Croatia continue to press the advantage, getting off a few more shots that are closed down by Irish defenders.

53: been back and forth for the last few minutes; Modric booked for a heavy challenge around midfield.

Double switch for Trappa. Cox on for McGeady. Walters on for Doyle. Cox makes an initial impact, getting a shot wide.

57:  Duff earns a free kick out wide, but Dunne is adjudged to have committed a foul in the box.

58: Andrews called for a foul at about 25.  Srno earns a throw down the right channel, but the resulting cross goes over for a goal kick.

60: Pletikosa’s had little to do this half, but collects an Irish long ball ahead of Robbie Keane.

61: Ireland waste possession, with Keane pulling back fror Cox, only for Cox to stutter step over the ball for an interminable amount of time before tamely giving it away.

62: John O’Shea balloons in a cross that Plietkosa easily claims.

63: Penalty claim for Keane as Ireland play on despite Mandzukic being down; Keane is bundled over from behind by Schildenfeld, but the ref waves it away.

64: Srna’s corner is this time easily cleared by Ireland, but the resultant break is wasted.

66: Croatia content to knock the ball around with Ireland chasing shadows.

68: Duff earns a free kick just outside the right channel.  Dunne’s header is in the right place, but there’s not enough pace to beat Pletikosa

70: St. Ledger pumps it forward for Duff to latch onto down the right channel, but his cross is way too close to the keeper, with Keane in attendance.

72: Croatian change: Jelavic off, Kranjcar on.  NIKO IS FREE, LORBER!!!!

73: Ireland work the ball around a bit, but Duff’s cross is easily cleared out for a throw.

74: Stephen Ward’s cross is cleared out to Simon Cox, but after a few passes across the 18, the final ball is cleared away.

75: Ireland change: Robbie Keane off, INTERNATIONAL HURLER (thanks for that insight, Adrian Healey) Shane Long on.

76: Ireland’s possession is wasteful; Croatia’s careless.  The game’s gone a bit flat here.

78: Rakitic fires wide after Srno hits him with a check-back pass around the right corner of the Ireland area.  Ireland lump it forward, but Cox bundles over Corluka in the area.

81: Duff works a cross in, but Andrews’s header is easily met by Pletikosa. Andrews fires wide after Long wins back possession outside the Croatia area.

84: Walters tries starting the break, but Kranjcar fouls him and ends up in the book.

85: Ireland work the FK long, but too long for Long (ugh).

86: Kranjcar fouls Cox after Mandzukic and St. Ledger collide.  Cox pops in a cross that causes some trouble, and Pletikosa and Long come together on the cross back in, with the keeper taking an elbow to the face for his troubles.  Eduardo prepares to come on for Mandzukic, but the official will not recognize the fourth official . . .

89: Until now.  Eduardo on, Perisic off.  Odd, considering how tenderly Mandzukic was moving around after the clash with St. Ledger.

90: We get 5 added minutes?  Gee, thanks, officials.  Ireland get their first corner of the match.  Andrews’s header whistles JUST past the post.  HUGE let off for the Ginghams.

90+ 2: Croatia change: Rakitic off, Dujmovic on.

90+ 3: Header tennis in the Croatia area results in Simon Cox doing some impressive keepy-ups before whiffing massively on the volley attempt.

90+ 5: The game petering out now, with Croatia taking a few throws down the left.

90+ 5: Andrews fires wide after Given pumps forward a free kick, and that’s the game.

FULL TIME: Republic of Ireland 1-3 Croatia

The game was tight through the first half, but Ireland were very flat in the second, and the third goal took all the wind out of the match. It might appear that I jinxed the Irish to this loss by predicting they’d finish first.  After watching the skill on the ball that both Spain and Italy had earlier, though, I don’t know that Croatia have what’s required to beat either, and will need a draw in their next match to have any hope of progression.

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