— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) June 12, 2016
Croatia began their Euro 2016 tournament with a 1-0 win over Turkey, in what was the first of the three games played on match day 3.
Croatia’s star man Luka Modric scored the only goal of the game 4 minutes before half time, and it was an absolute belter! The 30-year-old pounced on a high clearance made by Turkey’s Selcuk Inan, and hit the ball with a sensational volley from 25 yards out, scoring one of the best goals of the tournament so far, if not the best. Watch the goal here.
Darijo Srna and Ivan Perisic also came close to scoring for Croatia, but both of them were denied by the woodwork. On the other hand, Turkey almost scored a late equalizer near the end of the game, but were stopped by a crucial block made by Vedran Corluka, who played wearing a white bandage after getting hit in the head with an elbow in the first half.
Croatian coach Ante Cacic was delighted with Real Madrid’s midfield maestro, and heaped praises on him in the post-match interview.
“Luka really deserves to be talked about, especially after this match. It was one of his best matches in Croatia’s history. He played really well and he was our leader. He scored a magical goal and at the end it was the only goal. We need Luka in this form. All the team looks better and more aggressive when he plays like that.”
Croatia will next go head-to-head with Czech Republic on Friday in St Etienne, and that game will be followed with Turkey facing the reigning European champions Spain in Nice.
The second game of match day 3 was played between Poland and Northern Ireland, which the Polish won 1-0.
Poland dominated the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net due to some brilliant defending by the Northern Irishmen. However, the deadlock finally got broken in the second half, as Arkadiusz Milik scored the only goal of game in the 51st minute, slotting in a low cross by Jakub Blaszczykowski with his left foot. The Ajax starlet is now the youngest goalscorer for Poland (at 22 years 104 days) in the history of European Championship finals.
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis expressed his disappointment in a post-match interview with BBC Sport, stating: “It’s a disappointing evening. We have to braver on the ball but it’s a real learning curve for us. We always knew it would be difficult but we weren’t good enough.”
Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty also had his say: “I think we were overawed. That was not the team that has got us here, we have lacked a lot of that today and have come away with no points. We knew it would be tough, but I think the whole performance was not a Northern Ireland performance and on Thursday we will go and put it right.”
As mentioned by Lafferty, Northern Ireland will next face Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday, and Poland will play against the Germany on the same day in Paris.
Reigning World Champions Germany defeated Ukraine 2-0 in the final game of match day 3.
Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring for the Germans, heading in a Toni Kroos free kick from close range in the 19th minute. The second of the game was added by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored in stoppage time, merely two minutes after getting subbed on. The Manchester United midfielder, who only recently returned from an injury layoff, ended a swift counter attack by directing a Mesut Ozil cross into the net with a smooth half-volley.
Schweinsteiger commented on his goal scoring return by stating: “It’s just incredible. After all the injuries… something like this happens. I can’t play 90 or 120 minutes yet but I’m feeling like I can play. I feel really good. If I stay healthy, I’ll be able to play more.”
Germany boss Jochim Low also had his say about Basti’s goal and their victory: “Bastian was delighted to make such a great comeback after so many weeks slogging to get back to fitness.
“We dominated – but it wasn’t easy against a good Ukrainian defence, but we found solutions and so overall I’m very satisfied. The Poland game is going to be decisive as both teams have won and the result of that one will shape how the group finishes. Obviously we have a lot of players out injured but I think the players who did play did a very good job.”
The Germans are now atop Group C, but face a tough test against Poland on Thursday, having already faced defeat at their hands during the qualifying rounds of Euro 2016.