|Ecuador||1 - 0||Croatia|
|(HT: 0 - 0)|
International Stadium Yokohama
William Mattus (CRC)
|1||13 Jun 2002||Alfonso Obregon||Player Out||First Half||40||H|
|2||13 Jun 2002||Alex Aguinaga||Substitute In||First Half||40||H|
|3||13 Jun 2002||Edison Mendez||Goal||Second Half||3||H|
|4||13 Jun 2002||Dario Simic||Player Out||Second Half||7||A|
|5||13 Jun 2002||Davor Vugrinec||Substitute In||Second Half||7||A|
|6||13 Jun 2002||Niko Kovac||Player Out||Second Half||14||A|
|7||13 Jun 2002||Jurica Vranjes||Substitute In||Second Half||14||A|
|8||13 Jun 2002||Daniel Saric||Player Out||Second Half||23||A|
|9||13 Jun 2002||Mario Stanic||Substitute In||Second Half||23||A|
|10||13 Jun 2002||Stjepan Tomas||Yellow Card||Second Half||27||A|
|11||13 Jun 2002||Carlos Tenorio||Player Out||Second Half||31||H|
|12||13 Jun 2002||Ivan Kaviedes||Substitute In||Second Half||31||H|
|13||13 Jun 2002||Cleber Chala||Yellow Card||Second Half||41||H|
|14||13 Jun 2002||Josip Simunic||Yellow Card||Second Half||47||A|
|Croatia crashed out of the World Cup, missing a golden chance to qualify for the second phase at the expense of Group G rivals Italy after slumping to a 1-0 defeat against Ecuador. Croatia, the third placed team at the 1998 World Cup, would have qualified for the last 16 if they had managed to defeat the South Americans at the Yokohama International Stadium as Italy could only draw 1-1 with Mexico. But the Croatians were sent spinning to defeat and were eliminated along with bottom side Ecuador after a goal from Edison Mendez on 48 minutes. Mexico topped Group G with seven points with Italy runners-up on four points. Both Croatia - who had upset Italy 2-1 last week - and Ecuador finished on three points. The Croatians failed dismally to respond to Ecuador's winner and despite enjoying plenty of possession they hardly put any pressure on Ecuador keeper Jose Cevallos after falling behind. The few promising Croatian attacks invariably broke down near the penalty area, and they desperately lacked invention. A miserable night was summed up eight minutes from time. Alen Boksic burst down the right and swept a cross over for substitute Davor Vugrinec, who despite having time to control blazed a wild volley over the bar. Ecuador's winner came three minutes after half-time. A Ulises de la Cruz cross from the right was headed down by Agustin Delgado into the path of Mendez who sent a low shot ripping into the net.
"We were very happy because we showed how we can really play," goalscorer Mendez said after the win, whose team had lost their opening matches against Italy and Mexico.
"It was very important that this match didn't turn out to be a fiasco. We knew before the game that we had no real chance of qualifying but we can now leave with our heads held high," he said.
"First time here and I think we learned a lot. And I think we really showed the true quality of Ecuadorean football," Mendez added.
Mendez's goal came after a lacklustre first half which saw neither side manage to get on top, each cancelling the other out in midfield. Croatia barely threatened the Ecuadorean goal for the first half hour, a Milan Rapaic volley from outside the area that flew at least 15 yards wide their first shot on goal. Ecuador, needing a victory to have any chance of progressing from the group and into the last 16, were equally toothless in attack in the first half. Their best chance came when Mendez sent a vicious 25-yard strike skidding towards goal, Stipe Pletikosa needing two attempts to gather. Croatia began to assert themselves towards the end of the first half. A lovely piece of inter-passing ended with veteran striker Boksic chipping a shot onto the post and soon afterwards the Middlesbrough attacker was sent clear with a long ball from midfield only to be closed down swiftly. On the stroke of half-time Boksic broke free again and hooked a shot over the advancing goalkeeper Jose Cevallos. The shot looked to be going in but Augusto Poroso got back in time to nod wide.
(courtesy of dailysoccer)
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Page created by Christakis Ioannou on 13 June 2002 17:36:07.