Croatia makes it to Euro 2012 after playoff
Croatia claimed a place at the European Championship after a 0-0 draw against Turkey in the second leg of their playoffs on Tuesday, the fourth time it has reached the tournament since becoming an independent nation in 1991.
Croatia had a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg last Friday and Turkey never looked like overcoming it.
Croatia kept its perfect playoff record, having qualified against Ukraine for the 1998 World Cup and against Slovenia for Euro 2004.
''Turkey showed they are a good team, they were very dangerous,'' Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said. ''We knew we had to play seriously today despite having such big advantage from the first leg.''
Turkey coach Guus Hiddink started the second leg with a revamped team after several players were forced to miss the game due to suspension.
Turkey attacked from the start, trying to set the pace. Colin Kazim Richards almost scored in the fifth minute after Umut Bulut had hit the post.
The attempt was a shock to the Croats, who appeared vulnerable for a while in the first half, but later picked up the pace and created a number of chances of their own.
Gordon Schildenfeld headed wide in the 19th minute, Luka Modric missed an opportunity in the 30th and Mario Mandzukic shot high in the 38th.
Turkey's Hamit Altintop only just missed the target from just outside the box in the 65th in his team's last real chance.
Croatia almost scored two minutes later but goalkeeper Sinan Bolat made good save when Ivan Rakitic's shot was deflected by a Turkish defender.
Croats sighed with relief in the end, having been eliminated by Turkey in the Euro 2008 quarterfinals in a penalty shoot-out after conceding a goal in the last seconds of extra time.
''This time we were focused until the end and did not let Turkey kick us out as they did in Austria in 2008,'' Croatia defender Darijo Srna said. ''We played a solid game.''
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Josip Simunic, Gordon Schildenfeld, Domagoj Vida, Danijel Pranjic, Ivan Rakitic, Ognjen Vukojevic (Eduardo da Silva, 88), Luka Modric, Darijo Srna, Mario Mandzukic (Nikica Jelavic, 77), Ivica Olic (Ivan Perisic, 61).
Turkey: Sinan Bolat, Omer Toprak, Egemen Korkmaz, Hamit Altintop, Selcuk Inan, Umut Bulut (Halil Altintop, 71), Caner Erkin (Gokhan Tore, 36), Ismail Koybasi, Colin Kazim Richards, Selcuk Sahin, Serkan Balci.