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Fearless Croatia beat Germany 2-1

Bilic's team kept things tight early on and looked dangerous when they went forward.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUN 12, 2008 11:30 PM IST

Fearless Croatia pulled off a memorable 2-1 win over Group B favourites Germany on Thursday to move to the brink of a place in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.

Darijo Srna beat Marcell Jansen to poke home a curling cross from the left in the first half and Ivica Olic tapped the ball in early in the second period after a cross from Ivan Rakitic had struck Lukas Podolski and a post.

Germany pulled one back in the 79th minute through Podolski but Croatia held on for a victory that revived memories of their 3-0 triumph over Germany in the 1998 World Cup quarter-finals, a match that featured their coach Slaven Bilic.

To add to Germany's misery, substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger was sent off in injury time.

Croatia top the group with six points, ahead of Germany on three. Poland and Austria, beaten in their opening matches, were playing later on Thursday.

Bilic's team kept things tight early on and looked dangerous when they went forward.

Danijel Pranjic gave Germany a warning of what was to come when he whipped in a cross that the defence struggled to clear.

The same player then headed over the bar, with keeper Jens Lehmann beaten, and Christoph Metzelder had to rescue full back Jansen with a last-gasp sliding tackle to deny Olic.

The first goal came in the 24th minute, Srna proving too sharp for Jansen.

Croatia nearly made it 2-0 when Olic headed down and Niko Kranjcar blasted over.

The Germans went close with a Michael Ballack free kick and a header from Metzelder that flashed over.

Coach Joachim Loew sent on David Odonkor to add pace on the right and Ballack shot over from the edge of the area.

The second goal had an element of luck about it but it was reward for the excellent attitude Croatia showed and they managed to hold on after Podolski's late strike for Germany.

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