. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Croatia Slips by Turks on Late Goal


NOTTINGHAM, England -- A stunning solo goal by substitute Goran Vlaovic four minutes from time gave Croatia a 1-0 win over Turkey in a disappointing group D game that completed the first series of matches in Euro 96.

Vlaovic, who replaced the bandaged Alen Boksic in the 74th minute of Tuesday's game, picked up the ball in his own half, avoided chasing defenders, and after a 50-meter dash rounded goalkeeper Rustu Recber for the winner.

It was his fifth goal in only his eighth international and was the only memorable moment of a game that had flashes of individual skill from both teams but was largely a disappointing spectacle on a cold, rainy night in a half-filled ground.

Croatia had far more of the play and looked more likely to score. But it rarely penetrated a Turkish defense that always seemed to have men behind the ball.

Croatia had three chances to score from back-post headers, but Mario Stanic, Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker all missed out.

Turkey, which like Croatia was playing in its first European Championship finals, created a number of half chances of its own but left striker Hakan Sukur isolated in attack for long periods.

Urged on by the vociferous support of around 15,000 fans in a crowd of 22,000, Turkey made a bright start, and Sergen Yalcin tried his luck with a long-range shot after 11 minutes.

The Turks, with Abdullah Ercan and skipper Ogun Temizkanoglu showing invention, also played some nice soccer in midfield, but their attacks petered out in the final third, allowing Croatia to launch several counter offensives.

But with two defenders on Zvonimir Boban, one of their main playmakers who had a largely ineffectual game before going off after 57 minutes, the Croatians tended to play the long ball -- and their attacks also came to nothing.

Apart from the goal, the one exception came in the 67th minute when Robert Prosinecki and Robert Jarni worked an intelligent free kick on the left. Jarni's far-post cross found Suker, whose close-range header somehow bounced wide of a gaping goal.

France 1, Romania 0. Christophe Dugarry took advantage of a goalkeeping calamity to head France to the top of Group B.

Romanian 'keeper Bogdan Stelea made the wrong decision in racing off his line to try to reach a center from Youri Djorkaeff in the 24th minute at St. James' Park on Monday evening.

He didn't get there, and Dugarry, already jumping with two defenders, headed the ball into an empty net from just inside the penalty area for the only goal of the game.

The distressed Romanian goalkeeper was quick to acknowledge that his nightmarish error had cost his team the game.

"I want to apologize as 95 percent of the blame lies with me," Stelea said.

Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu said the keeper's blunder fundamentally changed the course of the game.

"We dominated the early part of the game. Then, we conceded a soft goal against the run of play ... which the goalkeeper must take considerable responsibility for."

Forced to push players forward in search of an equalizer, the Romanian midfield was stretched, enabling the French to play more fluid, open soccer.

French coach Aime Jacquet expressed cautious satisfaction with the result.

"We've done our job," he said. "We handled things, but nothing is finished yet."

The result, France's 24th game in a row without defeat, means it tops the standings because the other two teams, Spain and Bulgaria, tied 1-1 Sunday.

Opting to play the tournament without star players like Manchester United's Eric Cantona, Newcastle's David Ginola and Jean-Pierre Papin of Bayern Munich, the French took a long time to get their passing game moving.

Romanian captain Gheorghe Hagi's 25-meter shot yielded the first real save from Bernard Lama, who dived at the foot of his left post.

A minute later, Romanian goalkeeper Stelea was in action too, pushing away a shot from Djorkaeff that bounced in front of him.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)