Thursday, June 12, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Day 6 Recap

Croatia 2, Germany 1
Austria 1, Poland 1

The calendar may read 2008, but it must have felt like 1998 for Croatia and their fans as they upset Germany 2-1 to seize control of Group B and book a spot in the quarterfinals. In their biggest win since defeating the Germans in the 1998 World Cup quarters, Croatia showed a spark not seen in their opening match win over Austria. A perfectly-timed cross to Darijo Srna put the Croats ahead in the 24th minute for a 1-0 halftime lead. In the 63rd minute, Ivica Olic followed up on a deflected shot off the post for the eventual winner. Although Lukas Podolski halved the lead in the 78th minute, a late red card to Bastian Schweinsteiger ended hopes of a German comeback.

The result significantly impacts the top half of the tournament. The presumed Portugal-Germany semifinal is off; those two sides will most likely meet in the quarters. Portugal will have the advantage not only of an extra day's off, but the ability to rest players as, unlike Germany, their final group game will be meaningless. Croatia, as group winners, await the Czech Republic-Turkey winner.

In the nightcap, Austria earned a stoppage time penalty kick to escape with a 1-1 draw with Poland. The result means both sides retain slim hopes of reaching the quarterfinals. In one respect, a tie was a just ending as both goals were controversial. Poland's 30th minute tally came from Roger Guerreiro. who was in an offsides position when Marek Saganowski's cross entered the box. In second half stoppage time, Mariusz Lewandowski was cited for hauling down Sebastian Proedl on an iffy call. Ivica Vastic blasted home the PK to tie the score.

Group B concludes next Monday. Germany will need only a draw against Austria to secure second in the group. Poland will face Croatia, needing a win to have any hope of reaching the quarters.

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