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Ireland, Croatia erase bad memories

Ireland and Croatia erased bad memories with stunning football and seven goals as they made preliminary bookings for the Euro 2012 soccer finals by crushing Estonia and Turkey away.

sports Updated: Nov 12, 2011 23:47 IST

Ireland and Croatia erased bad memories with stunning football and seven goals as they made preliminary bookings for the Euro 2012 soccer finals by crushing Estonia and Turkey away.

In the other playoff first legs, Czech Republic overcame Montenegro 2-0 in Prague where Vaclav Pilar scored after 63 minutes and Tomas Sivok in added time while Bosnia and Portugal slugged out a goalless draw on a poor surface in Zenica.

Ireland, seeking to forget the disappointment of their infamous ‘Henry handball’ playoff defeat by France in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, won 4-0 in Estonia in their first leg while Croatia beat the Turks 3-0 in Istanbul.

For Croatia, it was a satisfying triumph as goals from Ivica Olic, Mario Mandzukic and Vedran Corluka went some way to exacting revenge for their quarterfinal defeat by the Turks in the 2008 finals. They struck early and silenced the home crowd. “'It is virtually decided,” Turkey coach Guus Hiddink said.

Ireland, seeking to reach their first major tournament since the 2002 World Cup finals, galloped to victory in Tallinn thanks to a Keith Andrews header after 13 minutes and second-half strikes from Jon Walters and two from Robbie Keane, his second an 88th minute penalty.