Croatia rely on Modric touch to tame Turkey

Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:52pm EDT
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By Patrick Vignal

PARIS (Reuters) - A touch of Luka Modric magic handed Croatia a 1-0 win over Turkey on Sunday that puts them in pole position to successfully negotiate one of the toughest groups at Euro 2016.

Croatia were the better side and created more chances but needed the brilliance of their inspirational midfielder to win their Group D opener at Parc des Princes and gain a measure of revenge after their bitter quarter-final elimination by the same opponents at Euro 2008.

The Real Madrid playmaker scored the only goal, breaking the deadlock in a tense affair just before halftime by meeting a deflected clearance with a fine volley from 25 metres that bounced in front of diving Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Babacan.

Modric, who missed the opening penalty for Croatia in the 2008 shootout, made amends with an impressive display, organizing his side with calm authority before being named man of the match.

"Luka really deserves to be talked about, especially after this match, one of his best for Croatia," said Croatia coach Ante Cacic. "He really played well, he was our leader, he scored a magical goal."

The game, watched by large contingents of passionate fans from both sides, was played amid tight scrutiny after the ugly scenes that marred Saturday's game between England and Russia.

A few incidents were reported, but nothing like what happened in Marseille.

A cloud of smoke after the goal suggested flares had been launched from a section of the stadium packed with Croatia fans and a supporter invaded the pitch to join the goal celebrations before being pushed out by security. A smoke bomb was later thrown in behind the Croatia goal.   Continued...

Football Soccer - Turkey v Croatia - EURO 2016 - Group D - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - 12/6/16
Croatia's Luka Modric and Darijo Srna (C) in action with Turkey's Caner Erkin
REUTERS/John Sibley