Euro 2016 round up: Turkey 0 Croatia 1 - and what the result means

Croatia's Luka Modric (#10) celebrating scoring against Turkey during the Euro 2016 football match at Parc des Princes in Paris on June 12, 2016.
Croatia's Luka Modric (#10) celebrating scoring against Turkey during the Euro 2016 football match at Parc des Princes in Paris on June 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

One of the tournament's dark horses, Croatia showed what a dangerous side they are with this performance in their Group D opener.

They might have only scored a single goal but they were superior in every department against the Turks and created numerous chances, twice hitting the crossbar as well.

Manager Ante Cacic opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation and it allowed Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic the freedom to roam and dictate play with their quick passing and vision.

Skipper Darijo Srna may be 34 but he played like a man half his age, full of energetic overlaps which gave Croatia width on the right while winger Ivan Perisic was equally dangerous on the opposite flank.

Turkey had never beaten Croatia over 90 minutes in all their six previous encounters and did not do enough to end that unwanted record at the Parc de Princes in Paris.

 
 
 

Nevertheless, it took a moment of brilliance to settle this game and what a piece of skill it was from Modric.

The danger seemed to have passed with a looping clearance but the Real Madrid star never took his eyes off the ball and without breaking stride, unleashed a stunning volley from 25 yards that caught Turkey's goalkeeper Volkan Babacan by surprise.

The competition is only three days old but has already seen some great goals from France's Dimitri Payet and Welsh star Gareth Bale. Modric's beautiful effort is a worthy addition to that list.

Match highlights

- Just two minutes was all it took for Croatia to signal their intentions. Captain Srna's cross from the right finds Rakitic who shins his effort just wide of the far post.

- Mario Mandzukic's clever movement leaves him unmarked in the box but his weaker header in the 17th min from a Marcelo Brozovic's cross is easily cleared.

- Despite being on the back-foot, Turkey have the best chance to break the deadlock in the 29th min as Gokhan Gonul delivers a fine cross that takes out splits Croatia's centre-backs but Ozan Tufan, from six yards, glances his header straight into the hands of a grateful Subasic.

- Ninety seconds later, striker Cenk Tosun picks up the first yellow card for a stray elbow into the side of Vedran Corluka's head. The former Spurs defender is not amused as blood streams down his face.

- The decisive moment arrives four minutes before the break in stunning fashion as Modric, without breaking stride, sends a first-time volley from 25 yards past Babacan. The Turkish stopper could have done better but his view might have been blocked by the crowd of players in front of him.

- Srna smashed a freekick onto the crossbar after a mazy run by Rakitic in the 52nd min.

- He has another chance to double the lead within minutes but with the Babacan on the floor, the Croatian skipper can only lash his left-foot effort wide of the post.

- Perisic whips in a cross from the left in the 67th min and Brozovic flings himself at the ball but cannot cannot apply finishing touch.

- The pressure is relentless from Croatia as Perisic has a free header but can only glance his effort onto the cross bar in the 72nd minute.

- A rare attempt by Turkey but left-back Caner Erkin's free-kick is easily gathered by Subasic.

-This is just not Perisic's day. He is one on one against Babacan but sees his shot blocked and cannot kill the game off. It does not prove costly as Croatia hang on for the three points.

The talking point

Croatia will look back on this and wonder how they did not kill the game off earlier. The likes of Mandzukic and Perisic, who are their team's main goalscoring threat, were wasteful. They will need to be more decisive if Croatia are to progress to the semi-finals and beyond, something the country has never done since making their debut in the competition in 1996.

One man who is up for the fight though is Corluka. He needed to have his bandage redone three times but returned each time to make a strong tackle. Croatia will need such fighting spirit in the coming weeks.

Man of the Match

Has to be Modric. The 30-year-old bossed the game with his intelligent passing, quick feet and wonderful piece of skill that gave his team the lead at a critical juncture just before the half-time break.

What the result means

This was three invaluable points for Croatia in the Group of Death. They will head into Saturday's clash against the Czech Republic full of confidence, knowing another victory would guarantee them passage into the next round. Coach Cacic's team looked like they had another gear to step up to and this will bode well for them as they will almost certainly face tougher opposition.

The Turks meanwhile, will be disappointed with this result. Manager Fatih Terim will need to inject more fire in the belly of his players, many of whom including Barcelona forward Arda Turan looked nervous and lacklustre.

Key statistic

Croatia had 19 shots, including six on target, and hit the cross bar twice. This was a dominant performance from a mobile and well-balanced outfit.

What they said

Rakitic: "We are definitely in the hardest group, with Spain, so it is a perfect start to get three points."