Croatia beats Latvia to make Euro playoff
Croatia had to settle for a place in the playoffs for next
year’s European Championship despite beating Latvia 2-0 Tuesday in
their final qualifier thanks to goals from Eduardo da Silva and
Croatia finished second in Group F behind Greece, which rallied
late for a 2-1 victory over Georgia. It had a chance to qualify as
best runner-up, but that spot went to Sweden after it beat the
Netherlands 3-2 in Group E.
Croatia dominated from the start but was held scoreless through
the first half, and Latvia nearly took the lead in the 59th when
Artjoms Rudnevs was one-on-one with Stipe Pletikosa after a long
solo run, but the Croatian goalkeeper made a great save.
Eduardo then put Croatia ahead in the 66th, taking a pass from
Ivan Strinic and scoring with a powerful header. Mandzukic secured
the win with another header in the 72nd after converting a perfect
pass from Darjo Srna.
”We were hoping to go directly to Euro 2012 but still feel we
will be there,” Srna said. ”It was a good game today, even though
it was not easy to kick back after the setback in Greece last
Friday,” when Croatia lost 2-0.
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Ivan Strinic, Josip Simunic, Dejan
Lovren, Vedran Corluka (Domagoj Vida, 34), Ivan Rakitic, Luka
Modric, Darijo Srna, Mario Mandzukic (Nikica Jelavic, 84), Niko
Kranjcar (Ivan Perisic, 59), Eduardo da Silva.
Latvia: Andris Vanins, Oskars Klava, Pavels Mihadjuks, Deniss
Ivanovs, Olegs Laizans, Aleksandrs Cauna, Aleksejs Visnakovs
(Andrejs Rubins, 88), Ritvars Rugins (Igors Tarasovs, 81), Kaspars
Gorkss, Andrejs Pereplotkins (Erdgars Gauracs, 71), Artjoms