Category: Archive

Euro 2000 Roundup Croatia move to top of Irish group

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Three days after holding off Yugoslavia in a dramatic encounter in Belgrade last Wednesday, Croatia edged Malta, 2-1, in Zagreb to shoot to the top of Ireland’s European Soccer Championship qualifying group.

Mario Stanic (34th minute) and Zvonimir Soldo (55th) eked out the win over Malta, who hit back through David Carabott (61st).

Scrappy as it was, it was a much-needed victory for the Croats after their goalless midweek tie with bitter foes Yugoslavia, in a tense affair interrupted by a power failure.

Said Croatia coach Miroslav Blazevic: "We can be happy because we achieved what is most important — three points. Otherwise, we should forget this game as soon as possible."

The result puts Croatia in first place in Group 8 with 11 points, one point ahead of Yugoslavia and two ahead of Ireland. But both Yugoslavia and Ireland have two games in hand.

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And the leadership could change hands once again next Wednesday, Sept. 1, when the Yugoslavs visit Dublin for their delayed meeting with the Republic.

The match fell through last June when the Irish authorities denied the Serbs visas because of the Kosovo crisis.

In another Euro 2000 qualifier played last week, Slovenia beat Albania, 2-0, in Ljubljana to move to within two points of Group 2 leaders Norway (16). Zlatko Zahovic (49th) and Milan Osterc (80th) scored.

North pipped

Lilian Laslandes banged in a cross by Lilian Thuram (67th) to give World Cup holders France a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland in Belfast.

The North had their chances in the keenly contested friendly watched by over 14,000 fans at Windsor Park, including a first half effort by Birmingham’s Jon McCarthy that came off the woodwork.

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