Croatia stun Germany 2-1

Croats win through to quarter finals as Austria and Poland fight to a draw.

    The result puts Croatia at the top of Group B and in control of 
    their progress to the quarter finals [AFP]

    Croatia caused the biggest upset of Euro 2008 so far by beating the well-fancied and on-form Germany 2-1 in Klagenfurt, Austria, and later progressed to the quarter finals after Poland and Austria drew in Vienna.

    Croatia took a 2-0 lead after goals from Darijo Srna and Ivica Olic either side of half time on Thursday.

    The first goal came on the 24th minute when Danijel Pranjic exchanged passes with Ivan Rakitic, whose cross bypassed the German defence for Srna to put the ball past German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

    Croatia's second goal in the 63rd minute was a mixture of blunder and blessing as a shot by Rakitic from the right of the penalty box was deflected by German forward Lukas Podolski past Lehmann and onto his near post.

    The ball then rebounded to Olic's feet who tapped it home, but Lehmann could have done better to stop Rakitic's initial shot.

    Germany increased the pressure on the Croats as the game wore on and got a goal back through a Poldolski volley after captain Michael Ballack headed down in the area. 

    With 11 minutes to go it was the first time that the Croat defence had failed to deal with a German attack, allowing Poldolski to score his third goal of the tournament.

    Fractious finish

    But the match ended - like previous games between the two teams - with a player being sent off, as German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger's frustrations spilled over in injury time

    He was given his marching orders for pushing substitute Jerko Leko to the ground after a hefty challenge by the Croat.

    Slaven Bilic, Croatia's coach, said: "I want to congratulate both teams for a great game of football.

    "I think we played some outstanding football and nothing less is required to beat Germany.

    "We kept going forward throughout and always looked threatening while our back four held firm when they put us under pressure."

    Ballack admitted that his side underperformed, saying that compared to their opening 2-0 victory over Poland they had "played poorer in all areas".

    The result leaves Croatia at the top of Group B, with six points.

    Co-hosts survive

    Austria dramatically saved themselves from elimination at the death, when a penalty given in the third minute of extra time drew them level in their match in the Ernst Happel Stadium in their capital, Vienna.


    The 1-1 result put Croatia through to the quarter finals with the three other teams still able to qualify in the last round of Group B games.


    Austria missed a slew of chances in the first 15 minutes, which they came to rue on the half an hour mark when Brazilian-born midfielder Roger Guerreiro put Poland ahead from close range.


    Guerreiro appeared to be offside when Marek Saganowski crossed the ball into the six-yard box, but the linesman kept his flag down.


    Poland's goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who plays his club football in Scotland for Celtic, consistently kept his team in the match in the first half.


    Yet, in the second Poland took increasing control of a pulsating, if not high-quality, game. 


    The second half saw Jurgen Macho, Austria's goalkeeper making a good double save with just under half an hour to go.


    However, with the match winding down, a free kick was lofted into the Polish penalty area.


    A slight pull by Poland's Mariusz Lewandowski on the shirt of Sebastian Proedl in the area led to the Austrian defender falling and Howard Webb, the English referee, calling a penalty.


    Ivica Vastic stepped up to smash the penalty into Boruc's top right hand corner and left Austria, unlike co-host Switzerland, with a chance of making the next round.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    All Hail The Algorithm

    All Hail The Algorithm

    A five-part series exploring the impact of algorithms on our everyday lives.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.