Mo­dric de­liv­ers a touch of magic as Croa­tia get off to a win­ning start

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EURO 2016 -

ANTE Cacic, the Croa­tia man­ager, hailed Luka Mo­dric’s match-win­ning goal as a piece of “magic” while prais­ing the mid­fielder’s all-round per­for­mance in their open­ing-game vic­tory against Turkey.

Mo­dric struck a loop­ing 25-yard shot into the bot­tom cor­ner of the net late in the first half to give his team the early ini­tia­tive in Group D, which also in­cludes de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Spain and Czech Repub­lic.

Croa­tia cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties through­out the game, hit­ting the cross­bar twice in the se­cond half, but could not find a se­cond goal. Turkey never re­ally looked like mak­ing them pay though and with Spain up next, could al­ready find it tough to make the knock-out stages.

“Luka de­serves to be talked about – this was one of his best matches,” Cacic said. “He re­ally played well, he was our leader. He scored this magic goal and it turned out to be the only one of the game.

“We need Luka in this form be­cause, when he is, the whole team looks dif­fer­ent. It looks more ag­gres­sive.

“I ex­pected a very tough match – it was tough for us too but we stood up well. Af­ter we scored we held on to it well, we had more pos­ses­sion and chances to get more goals.”

Prior to Mo­dric’s su­perb 41st-minute strike, de­spite be­ing on the back foot for most of the game, Turkey had the best op­por­tu­nity to take the lead.

Gokhan Gonul put a fab­u­lous cross into a dan­ger­ous area and Ozan Tu­fan, ar­riv­ing in the six-yard box, pow­ered a header straight into the midriff of goal­keeper Dani­jel Suba­sic, who dropped the ball on to the goal-line be­fore smoth­er­ing it at the se­cond at­tempt.

Turkey head coach Fatih Terim knows there is plenty of room for im­prove­ment from his team.

“We played well in the first half,” Terim said. “Croa­tia were bet­ter than us in the se­cond, but we had a big chance to score the first goal. If we’d got that, it would have been dif­fer­ent.

“It’s not over till it’s over. We’ll keep fight­ing.”

WIN­NER: Luka Mo­dric

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