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  Results & Reviews: Match 12

  

So close
Croatia stuns mighty France before settling for 2-2 draw

Croatia held defending champions France to a 2-2 draw in a explosive Euro 2004 match on Thursday, the latest tournament surprise that leaves Group B wide open.

An own goal by Igor Tudor midway through the first half seemed to have France on course for the quarterfinals but two goals in four minutes early in the second, a Milan Rapaic penalty and a shot by Dado Prso, suddenly turned things round.

David Trezeguet rescued the holders in the 64th minute to set up a tense final round of fixtures on June 21.

France leads the way with four points. England, who beat Switzerland 3-0 earlier on Thursday has three, Croatia has two and the Swiss, one.

France plays Switzerland in the final round, needing just a draw to advance. England plays Croatia, also needing a
 
« Summary »

Group B 17 June 2004 1945 CET

Dr. Magalhães Pessoa, Leiria Attendance 30,000

2:2

Rapaic 48 pen
Prso 52

Tudor 23 og
Trezeguet 64
Croatia (4-4-2) Butina; Simic, R.Kovac, Tudor, Simunic; Rosso, N.Kovac, Rapaic (Mornar 87), Bjelica (Leko 68); Sokota (Olic 73), Prso.
France (4-4-2) Barthez; Thuram, Desailly, Gallas (Sagnol 81), Silvestre; Wiltord (Pires 70), Vieira, Dacourt (Pedretti 79), Zidane; Henry, Trezeguet.
Referee Kim Milton Nielsen (DEN)

point, but Croatia and Switzerland could still qualify with wins.

France started confidently, knocking the ball about crisply, but never really threatened in the opening 20 minutes.

The breakthrough came out of the blue when Zinedine Zidane, who struck both goals in France's 2-1 comeback win over England on Sunday, curled a free kick from wide on the left that took a slight deflection off defender Tudor and left goalkeeper Tomislav Butina wrong-footed.

The game then went into a lull with neither side showing any particular urgency until an outrageous back-heeled flick by Zidane from a corner set up William Gallas for a header, which the defender sent wide of the post.

Croatia coach Otto Baric said in the build-up to the game that he would be delighted with a draw. His side was on level terms three minutes into the second half after Mikael Silvestre bundled over Dovani Rossi in the box.

French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez had saved David Beckham's penalty for England on Sunday but had no chance with Rapaic's blasted effort.

The massed hordes of red and white checked Croatian fans erupted to acclaim their first goal of the tournament and four minutes later they took the roof off to celebrate the second.

Prso, who earned his living in the French league for AS Monaco last season, thought he had lost possession after hooking the ball over the head of Silvestre but a miscued clearance by recalled captain Marcel Desailly returned it to him, and he took full advantage by lashing the ball past Barthez.

France, who had scored twice in three minutes to beat England on Sunday, was stunned but quickly collected itself and drew level with a hotly-disputed goal in the 64th minute.

Trezeguet charged down a Butina clearance, the ball hitting his arm, before slotting into the empty net from a tight angle.

The Croatian players complained bitterly to Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen but the goal stood.

France then went for the win, sending on Robert Pires for the rusty-looking Sylvain Wiltord but they could not manage it.

Ivica Mornar could have won it for Croatia in injury-time when he swivelled inside the six-meter box but flashed his shot over the bar. 

Croatia, who had lost its three previous meetings, including the 1998 World Cup semifinal, also threatened on the break but at the final whistle its fans celebrated as if they had already won the title.
- Reuters

 

 

 « Group Standings »

Group B

P W D L F A Pt
France 2 1 1 0 4 3 4
England 2 1 0 1 4 2 3
Croatia 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
Switzerland 2 0 1 1 0 3 1

 

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 « Match Stats »

ENG vs FRA
2 Goals 2
0 Halftime 1
2 Corners 9
4 Offsides 3
20 Fouls 13
4 Yellow cards 2
0 Red cards 0
16 Free kicks 24
5 Shots on target 9
4 Shots off target 7
0 Woodwork 0
6 Saves 3
0 GL Clearances 0
47% Possession 53%

 

 

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