Ireland v Croatia Match History
The Republic of Ireland kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against Croatia on Sunday. GreenScene looks back at the previous five meetings between the two sides.
2 June 1996 – Republic of Ireland 2-2 Croatia
Ireland’s first meeting with Croatia took place six days before the start of UEFA Euro 1996, which was held in England, and saw the end of Jack Charlton’s tenure as Irish boss with Ireland losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in a qualifying playoff. Mick McCarthy had taken over the vacant Ireland managerial role in March, but had suffered defeats in his first three friendlies as he tried to introduce new players and a new approach. Croatia, on the other hand, were preparing for their first international tournament after topping a group containing Italy, Lithuania, and the Ukraine. Roy Keane was left out of the Ireland squad with a hamstring injury, and would not travel to America for the US Cup. Birmingham City defender Gary Breen made his first competitive start, but it was Keith O’Neill who won all the plaudits on his full debut. After Davor Suker opened the scoring with a header for the visitors at Lansdowne Road, O’Neill scored his first goal, and the first Ireland goal under McCarthy after Niall Quinn knocked the ball down to him. Zvonimir Boban’s long-range effort snuck in at Shay Given’s right-hand post to restore Croatia’s lead before half-time, but captain Niall Quinn snatched a late draw for Ireland when he reacted first to Dave Savage’s rebound. With Ireland stuttering in America, Croatia went on to beat Turkey and Denmark in their Euro 96 group before losing to Germany in the quarter finals, with Davor Suker finishing Golden Boot runner-up with 3 goals.
Ireland: Shay Given (Blackburn), Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon), Terry Phelan (Chelsea), Liam Daish (Coventry), Gary Breen (Birmingham), Jeff Kenna (Blackburn), Liam O’Brien (Tranmere), Alan McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Niall Quinn (Man City) capt., Keith O’Neill (Norwich), Mark Kennedy (Liverpool).
Subs: Ian Harte (Leeds) for Phelan – 45; Alan Moore (Middlesbro) for O’Neill – 45; Curtis Fleming (Middlesbro) for Cunningham – 61; Alan Kernaghan (Man City) for Kenna – 66; Dave Savage (Millwall) for McLoughlin – 73; Tony Cascarino (Olympique Marseille) for Breen – 75
Croatia: Mrmic, Stanic, Bilic, Jerkan, Stimac, Asanovic, Vlaovic, Suker, Boksic, Boban, Jarni.
Subs: Ladic for Mrmic – 45; Jurcevic for Vlaovic – 71; Soldo for Stanic – 78.
5 September 1998 – Republic of Ireland 2-0 Croatia
The next meeting between the two sides was the opening game of Euro 2000 Qualifying Group 8. Croatia had shocked many three months earlier by finishing third in the 1998 World Cup in France, with Davor Suker finishing the tournament as top scorer with 6 goals. Yugoslavia, Macedonia, and Malta completed Group 8, and many thought Mick McCarthy’s side would struggle against Yugoslavia and Croatia during the campaign. However, in the opening game, Croatia were weakened by injuries to Suker, Alen Boksic, and Slaven Bilic, while Robert Prosinecki refused to play under manager Miroslav Blazevic. Within four minutes, Ireland were ahead at Lansdowne Road. Denis Irwin had made a run into the box, and after being felled by Dario Simic, converted from the spot. Keith O’Neill was forced off after nine minutes with a shin injury, but that didn’t hinder Ireland, who were two up after 16 minutes. Jason McAteer’s shot deflected off Zvonimir Soldo and Roy Keane got his head to it to score. Keane was tremendous throughout, marshalling midfield, and made an impression on Zvonimir Boban with a crunching first-half tackle. Ireland were comfortably on top for most of the game, and Kenny Cunningham was impressive in defence any time Croatia did venture forward. Croatia’s trip to Dublin was made even worse within three second-half minutes as both Mario Stanic and Krunoslav Jurcic were both sent off. Ireland finished the year with a 5-0 win over Malta and a 1-0 loss in Belgrade against Yugoslavia, while the Croats beat Malta (4-0) and Macedonia (3-2).
Ireland: Shay Given (Newcastle United), Denis Irwin (Manchester United), Steve Staunton (Liverpool), Phil Babb (Liverpool), Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon), Roy Keane (Manchester United)Capt., Jason McAteer (Liverpool), Mark Kinsella (Charlton Athletic), Keith O’Neill (Norwich), Robbie Keane (Wolves), Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers). Subs: Tony Cascarino (AS Nancy), Jeff Kenna (Blackburn Rovers), Lee Carsley (Derby County).
Subs: Tony Cascarino (AS Nancy) for O’Neill- 8 mins; Jeff Kenna (Blackburn Rovers) for Duff – 46 mins; Lee Carsley (Derby County) for Robbie Keane – 61 mins.
Croatia: Ladic (Croatia Zagreb), Simic (Croatia Zagreb), Stimac (Derby County), Asanovic (panathinaikos), Maric (Croatia Zagreb), Boban (AC Milan), Stanic (Parma), Soldo (VfB Stuttgart), Jurcic (Croatia Zagreb), Tudor (Juventus), Jarni (Real Madrid).
Subs: Pamic (Stuttgart) for Maric, 46; Krpan (Osijek) for Tudor, 63; Tokic (Croatia) for Soldo, 78.
4 September 1999 – Croatia 1-0 Republic of Ireland
Wins over Macedonia and Yugoslavia saw Ireland continue the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign well, sitting atop the table after five games, but a trip to the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb three days after that 2-1 win over Yugoslavia in Dublin proved a disappointment. Croatia had slipped up with draws against Macedonia and Yugoslavia, and many Irish pundits expected Mick McCarthy’s men to take all three points. A draw would have more or less guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, while a win would move Ireland further ahead at the top, and even if they slipped up later, a step closer to the best second placed team automatic qualification place. Both teams were missing their midfield talismen, with Roy Keane ruled out with a hamstring injury and Zvonimir Boban absent for Croatia. McCarthy looked towards the midweek game against Malta, and sought to pick up a point in Croatia, choosing to rest some of the players who had beaten Yugoslavia. Only Mark Kinsella remained from the midfield four, and starting strikers Robbie Keane and Niall Quinn were both rested. Croatia looked dangerous in the first half, and tested Alan Kelly’s goal on a number of occasions. Kenny Cunningham was once again solid in defence, while Gary Kelly made a few crucial interceptions. When Davor Suker spurned a great chance in the 78th minute, it looked like Ireland might hold on for a draw. However, referee Manuel Díaz Vega had other ideas, awarding five minutes of stoppage time, which saw Suker finally break the deadlock from a long ball to put Croatia well in contention and set up a thrilling finale. The following Wednesday, Malta came back from two down in Ta’ Qali, but Ireland scored latest to win 3-2. Yugoslavia beat Macedonia 4-2, but on October 9th with Croatia and Yugoslavia drawing 2-2, a win in Macedonia would have sent Ireland to Euro 2000. However, Goran Stavrevski scored a late equaliser to see Yugoslavia go top and Ireland sink into the playoffs, where we lost to Turkey on away goals.
Ireland: Alan Kelly (Blackburn), Steven Carr(Tottenham Hotspur), Gary Breen (Coventry City), Kenny Cunningham (Wimbolton), Steve Staunton (Liverpool)Capt., Damien Duff (Blackburn), Mark Kinsella (Charlton Athletic), Lee Carsley (Blackburn), Alan McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Gary Kelly (Leeds United), Tony Cascarino (AS Nancy).
Subs: Kevin Kilbane (West Brom) for Duff – 57 mins, Ian Harte (Leeds United) for Kelly – 73 mins, Niall Quinn (Sunderland) for Cascarino – 83 mins.
Croatia: Ladic, Simic, Bilic, Stimac, Kovac, Stanic, Soldo, Asanovic, Jarni, Suker, Rapajic.
Subs: Rukagivina for Bilic – 46 mins, Stinic for Stanic – 85 mins.
15 August 2001 – Republic of Ireland 2-2 Croatia
A difficult World Cup 2002 qualifying group saw Ireland pitted against Portugal and the Netherlands, but away draws in Amsterdam and Lisbon saw Mick McCarthy’s side get off to a fantastic start. Wins over minnows Andorra, Estonia, and Cyprus, as well as a 1-1 draw with Portugal in Dublin saw the Irish team in a comfortable position heading into this August friendly with Croatia. Ireland passed the ball well, and a fine move involving both Keanes set up Damien Duff for his first international goal. The Boys in Green led 1-0 at the break, and McCarthy made five changes at half-time. Clinton Morrison replaced Robbie Keane soon after, and the Crystal Palace scored a simple debut goal after fellow substitute Jason McAteer’s shot was kept out by Stipe Pletikosa. Davor Vugrinec looped a header over Alan Kelly soon after, and then lightning struck twice as Davor Suker once again scored a stoppage time goal against Ireland. John O’Shea had handballed in the area, and Suker dispatched the spot kick past Kelly to make it 2-2. A win over Holland at Lansdowne Road the following month would set Ireland on a course for a memorable summer in Japan and South Korea via a playoff with Iran.
Ireland: Given, Gary Kelly, Dunne, Staunton, Harte, Kennedy, Roy Keane, Carsley, Reid, Duff, Robbie Keane.
Subs: Kilbane, Finnan, Connolly, McAteer, McPhail, Morrison, O’Brien, O’Shea, Doherty, Kiely, Alan Kelly.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Robert Kovac, Jarni, Soldo, Tudor, Dario Simic, Stanic, Rapaic, Balaban, Niko Kovac, Boksic.
Subs: Butina, Zivkovic, Suker, Tomas, Saric, Bjelica, Prosinecki, Biscan, Vugrinec.
16 November 2004 – Republic of Ireland 1-0 Croatia
After a successful 2002 World Cup where Ireland reached the knockout stages, Mick McCarthy stepped down as manager and made way for Brian Kerr to take over during Euro 2004 qualifying. Kerr was unlucky not to reach the playoffs, especially after taking over with Ireland 6 points adrift of Russia and Switzerland. Kerr met the Swiss again in World Cup 2006 qualifying, and drew 1-1 in Basel. Wins over Cyprus and the Faroe Islands as well as scoreless draw with France left Ireland in a good position at the end of 2004, and Ireland went in confident to this November friendly with Croatia. Kerr made wholesale changes to his usual side, testing out a three-man attack with Stephen Elliott of Sunderland making his Irish debut up front alongside Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. The 20-year-old had a good first game, but it was the more experienced Duff and Keane who linked up for the game’s only goal, with 24-year-old Keane netting his 24th international goal in the 24th minute. Liam Miller did well in the midfield trio, while Richard Dunne cleared off the line in the late stages of the game when Eduardo’s shot had beaten substitute keeper Shay Given.
Rep of Ireland: Kenny (Given 80), Finnan, Dunne, Breen (Cunningham 52), O’Shea, Miller, Kavanagh, Kilbane (Quinn 80), Duff, Elliott (Barrett 84), Keane (McGeady 90).
Subs Not Used: Maybury, Doherty, Lee, Colgan.
Croatia: Butina, Tomas (Tokic 66), Robert Kovac, Tudor (Balaban 45), Simunic (Neretljak 74), Vranjes (Ivan Leko 65), Nico Kovac, Srna, Kranjcar, Babic (Pranjic 59), Klasnic (Eduardo 59).
Subs Not Used: Vasilj.
10 August 2011 – Republic of Ireland 0-0 Croatia
The most recent meeting between the two sides came in last year’s friendly international at the Aviva Stadium. Both sides were in-form with Ireland having lifted the Carling Nations Cup while Croatia had only been beaten once in their last 17 matches. Giovanni Trapattoni and Slaven Bilic’s sides were also in good positions in their Euro 2012 qualifying groups, with Ireland preparing for crucial fixtures with Slovakia and Russia, while Croatia had recovered from a shock last minute loss to Georgia to leave themselves in contention for a playoff spot. Stephen Hunt started on the wing and should have done better with an early volley, while Shane Long started up front alongside Robbie Keane and tracked back well to put in a good block on Eduardo. Croatia had two calls for a penalty turned down in the first half, and at the other end Pletikosa saved well from Long’s header. The best chance of the game fell to Richard Dunne 20 minutes from time, but he couldn’t get his header on target from Sean St. Ledger’s cross. Nikola Kalinic forced Keiren Westwood into a save near the end, but a scoreless draw was a fair result and meant Ireland kept a fifth consecutive clean sheet. Draws with Slovakia and Russia as well as wins over Andorra and Armenia sent Ireland into the playoffs while Croatia finished with 3 wins from their last 4 games to reach the playoffs themselves. Ireland put the Thierry Henry handball incident to bed with a 5-1 aggregate win over Estonia, while Croatia swept aside Turkey 3-0 in Istanbul to reach the Euro 2012 finals.
Ireland: Given (Aston Villa); Kelly (Fulham), Dunne (Aston Villa), St Ledger (Leicester City), Ward (Wolves); Duff (Fulham), Gibson (Manchester United), Whelan (Stoke City), Hunt (Wolves); Long (West Brom), Keane (Spurs)
Subs: Keogh (Wolves) for Hunt, Westwood (Sunderland) for Given (both 64 mins), O’Dea (Leeds United) for Whelan (74 mins), Cox (West Brom) for Long, Treacy for Duff (both 83 mins)
Croatia: Pletikosa; Corluka, Lovren, Simunic, Strinic; Srna, Modric, Vukojevic, Kranjcar; Eduardo, Mandzukic.
Subs: Subasic, Pranjic, Perisic, Schildenfeld, Kalinic, Ilicevic, Dujmovic, Olic, Petric, Vrsaljko.