Matchday 10 – Wednesday, 19th June 1996 – Group D
After the excitement of yesterday’s matches, attention focuses on Groups C and D. Yesterday, we had the joy for England and Spain and the agony for Scotland and Bulgaria, what’s in store today?
Here’s how the group looks:
Croatia are in their first-ever international tournament as an independent nation, having been part of Yugoslavia. This is the first tournament they’ve had a chance to qualify for, they’ve not only made the finals stage, but they’ve also already qualified for the Quarter-Finals with a game to spare. What’s more, they’ve beaten the defending champions, too. They’re up against Portugal at the City Ground. A draw is enough for both sides. Even defeat for Portugal may still be enough. They have a four-goal advantage on goal difference over Denmark below them.
Denmark have not made the most impressive defence of their crown, won in glorious circumstances in Sweden four years before. A draw with Portugal before they were taken apart by Croatia doesn’t bode well for this afternoon’s events. They’re up against Turkey at Hillsborough. The Turks are in their first-ever international tournament for nearly 50 years and their first-ever Euros. They have yet to score. Denmark have no choice than to win and win handsomely. They also need Croatia to win, otherwise, they’re out.
Let’s now go to the team news.
CRO v POR
Croatian coach, Miroslav Blazevic, has taken the opportunity of knowing they’re through to the next round to rest some of the squad. He has retained just four players from their famous win over Denmark on Sunday. Goalkeeper, Marijan Mrmic is one of three players who get their first outing in the tournament. Davor Suker gets a break, with Igor Pamic partnering Goran Vlaovic up front. Zvonimir Boban and Aljosa Asanovic, who were both prominent in their win on Sunday, also step down. Mladen Mladenovic and Nikola Jurcevic, who both came off the bench on Sunday, receive starts.
Portugal make just two changes from the side which beat Turkey on Friday. Secretario comes in for Paulinho Santos at right-back, and Oceano is back in midfield, having played the opening game against Denmark, but missed the Turkey match.
TUR v DEN
For this crucial match, Denmark have two changes. Kim Vilfort drops to the bench and in comes Rangers’ Erik Bo Andersen. Allan Nielsen comes into midfield for Henrik Larsen for just his fourth cap. Denmark have to win this and probably by two or three goals.
Three changes for Turkey, who’ve yet to score in Euro ’96. Sergen Yalcin, Oguz Cetin and Saffet Sancakli all drop to the bench, with Tayfun Korkut, Orhan Cikirikci and Hami Mandirali coming in.
So now to the action.
GOAL!! CRO v POR (4 mins)
And there’s been a goal already, and it’s come at the City Ground. Breaking down the right, Secretario crossed into the area, and the Croatian defence was completely missing. Luis Figo was able to drift in completely unmarked and stabbed the ball home. Great start for Portugal who only need a draw. Cro 0-1 Por
GOAL!! CRO v POR (33 mins)
Portugal have doubled their lead. A corner on the right by Figo was headed on by Couto. Rui Costa acrobatically knocked it back to the penalty spot, where Sa Pinto controlled it and then knocked it in. Looks a little too easy for Portugal this. Croatia just don’t seem to have the incentive. This is not good for Denmark. Cro 0-2 Por
HALF TIME: Cro 0-2 Por, Tur 0-0 Den
As things stand Croatia and Portugal are going through. Denmark just haven’t been able to make the breakthrough at Hillsborough and their reign as champions seems to be dribbling to an end. Croatia may regret sending out such a changed side as at the moment, they’re going to finish second in the group. As it looks likely Germany will win their group, then they’ll be Croatia’s opponents in the Quarters. Given how well Croatia took Denmark apart on Sunday, you’d have thought they’d see off Portugal, too. But, not with this team, it seems. Will the second half bring about any change to things?
GOAL!! TUR v DEN (50 mins)
A goal at last at Hillsborough. Denmark played a ball forward, it was headed on by Erik Bo Andersen. As Temizkanoglu slipped, Brian Laudrup was also to sneak in and around the ‘keeper, Recber and slide the ball into the empty net. Tur 0-1 Den
GOAL!! TUR v DEN (69 mins)
Turkey’s defending has been very poor. Denmark have continually knocked on the door and now have got their reward. Laudrup slid the ball to Allan Nielsen and he had time to settle himself and drive it past Recber for the second. It’s lightened the mood a little for the Danish fans, but unless Croatia can score three, it’s all academic. Tur 0-2 Den
GOAL!! CRO v POR (82 mins)
And that just about wraps it up. Croatia really haven’t been at the races here, and this third goal just sums up their play. Pavlicic was far too complacent at the back and his ball downfield just hit Domingos. The Portuguese, who’d come on for Sa Pinto, was free to just run at goal and slide the ball past Mrmic. Portugal haven’t had to work too hard but they’re into the next round as group winners. Cro 0-3 Por
GOAL!! TUR v DEN (84 mins)
Denmark are heading out, but at least they’ve given their fans something. The third goal was almost inevitable. Erik Bo Andersen, who really seemed to add something to their attack in this game, did well just outside the box. He created space for Brian Laudrup and he scored his second of the game and his third of the tournament. Danish fans must be wondering why they couldn’t have shown this form earlier. Tur 0-3 Den
That’s it. The final whistle has gone in both games and it’s Portugal and Croatia who progress to the next round. The reigning champions, Denmark, are out.
Portugal, who only needed a draw to qualify, eased past Croatia, who themselves were already in the Quarter-Finals. Croatia fielded a weakened side and you’d have thought they would want to avoid Germany in the next round, as finishing second is likely to mean that. But perhaps having the opportunity to rest players was more important.
Portugal win the group and will now await the runners-up in Germany’s group. Will that be Italy or Czech Republic? We will have to wait and see.
Denmark will be disappointed they didn’t give a better account of themselves. Their inability to hold onto a lead against Portugal didn’t help. But then they were taken apart by Croatia and there was no coming back from that. For Turkey, this was their first-ever Euros and they didn’t disgrace themselves, although I bet they’d have liked to have scored at least.
GROUP D, City Ground, Nottingham, 20,484
CROATIA (0) 0
PORTUGAL (2) 3 (Figo 4, Joao Pinto 33, Domingos 82)
CROATIA: Mrmic; Simic, Pavlicic, Bilic, Soldo, Jarni; Mladenovic (Asanovic), Prosinecki (Boban), Jurcevic; Pamic (Suker), Vlaovic
PORTUGAL: Baia; Secretario, Couto, Helder, Dimas; Sousa (Tavares), Rui Costa (Barbosa), Oceano, Luis Figo; Sa Pinto (Domingos), Joao Pinto
GROUP D, Hillsborough, 28,951
TURKEY (0) 0
DENMARK (0) 3 (B Laudrup 50, 84, A Nielsen 69)
TURKEY: Recber; Inceefe, Temizkanoglu, Ozalan; R Cetin (Korkmaz), Kerimoglu; Mandirali, Korkut, Ercan; Cikirikci (Sancakli), Sukur (Erdem)
DENMARK: Schmeichel; Helveg, Hogh, Rieper, Schjonberg (Larsen); Thomsen, B Nielsen, M Laudrup, A Nielsen; EB Andersen (S Andersen), B Laudrup
So, the Quarter-Finals are shaping up like this now, with just one group to be sorted.
22nd June 1996, Wembley:
England v Spain
22nd June 1996, Anfield:
France v the Netherlands
23rd June 1996, Villa Park:
Croatia v Group C winners
23rd June 1996, Old Trafford:
Portugal v Group C runners-up
Join us next time when we will have the last of the group matches.
Germany v Italy and Russia v Czech Republic