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World Cup
4 July 1998 Lyon - Stade de Gerland
Germany Croatia
It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one as Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage in Lyon against a Croatian side who undoubtedly reached the pinnacle of their short footballing history. The Croatians only became an independent country in 1991 and their victory proved to be sweet revenge for their Euro 96 quarter-final defeat by the Germans. Croatia will certainly feel confident of overcoming hosts France in the semi-finals if they repeat tonight's performance, while for the homeward bound Germans the disappointment of defeat will be compounded by the imminent announcement of the retiral of many of their senior players including Lothar Matthaus and Jurgen Klinsmann. Certainly they would have wished to have left the world stage in better circumstances as the Germans were furious with the first-half dismissal of Christian Woerns, which the Germans felt turned the game against them. In the early stages Thomas Hassler was finding plenty of space on the wing and his tricky play resulted in a succession of early free-kicks from which Michael Tarnat and Hassler himself came close. Germany came even closer in 21 minutes when Dietmar Hamann headed over unmarked from 6 yards. Then on the half hour mark keeper Ladic was called into action when he scrambled an Oliver Bierhoff header off the line. With the game becoming an ill-tempered midfield battle Germany were reduced to 10 men when Woerns was red carded for a tackle on Davor Suker, a decision which infuriated the Germans who felt that Suker was feigning injury. Germany were to pay right on the stroke of half time as Croatia opened the scoring, and as the referee blew his whistle to end a stormy first 45 he was berated by Juergen Kohler and Lothar Matthaus as the Germans left the field. Germany continued to have the bulk of possession in the second half and Bierhoff was desperately unlucky not to provide what would have been a deserved equaliser in 52 minutes. Klinsmann flicked on a corner at the near post and keeper Ladic produced an astonishing save to keep out Bierhoff's close-range back post volley. As 10 man Germany continued to press they left themselves vulnerable to a Croatian counter and Suker missed a glaring chance when he shot wide of the left-hand post from only 6 yards. Croatian captain Boban then stamped his authority on the game with two worthy long-range efforts as the Croatians hinted that they could sneek a second. Germany though again defiantly pushed for an equaliser when Hamann smacked the foot of the post with a deflected free-kick in 79 minutes but the German resistance was broken only 60 seconds later with Vlaovic's decisive second and striker Suker ended the game as a contest with his sides third and his fourth of the tournament late on, which puts the Real Madrid hitman right in contention for the Golden Boot given that leading scorers Gabriel Batistuta and Christian Vierri are already on their way home with Argentina and Italy knocked out.

(0-1) Jarni (45). Stanic played the ball across the edge of a crowded box. Jarni ran on to it and hit a fierce shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

(0-2) Vlaovic (80). Boban gained possession in his own half and ran with the ball over the half-way line before playing a simple ball to Vlaovic. Vlaovic pushed the ball forward towards the edge of the area and then let fly with a vicious right-foot low shot into the far corner of the goal.

(0-3) Suker (85). A free kick, near the touchline in the German half, was floated in to the edge of the box by Soldo. It was headed on by Simic to Suker who collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area cut inside two defenders and hit the ball right-footed past Koepke.

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