Monday June 3rd, 2002
Croatia vs Mexico in Niigata
Although the game in northern Japan started lively enough, with
Oscar Perez pushing a Josip Simunic attempt around the post for a corner in the 6th minute
and Zvonimir Soldo hooking the ball over the bar from the penalty spot in the 14th, both
sides found it hard to get into their rhythm or produce any real creativity.
The best chance of the game fell to Jared Borgetti, in the 33rd
minute, when Ramon Morales mis-hit a shot. The ball fell nicely to the unmarked Borgetti,
who could only shoot wide from six yards.
Mexico had perhaps a little more of the possession, although Croatia's
bursts forward earned them more corners - Robert Jarni taking the ones on the left and
Robert Prosinecki on the right.
Mexico closed the half a little more lively but even Cuauhtemoc Blanco
fell on his backside when trying one of his infamous hops, five minutes from the break.
Half-time: Croatia 0 - Mexico 0
Milan Rapajc came out at the start of the second-half, for the
ineffective Robert Prosinecki and drove in a low free-kick to the left of the goal in the
Apart from that, Mexico started to look more dangerous with Blanco getting into the game
better, so good that Boris Zivkovic brought the influential Mexican down in the area and
earned his marching orders.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco kept his calm to ram the ball home from the spot - 60 mins.
The double substitution from Croatia, to counter being a man short for
the remaining thirty minutes (Suker and Boksic out for Saric and Stanic), meant that they
had no notable striker on the pitch to pull the game back.
Mexico's answer, a minute later, was to bring on Hernandez for
With a quarter of an hour to go, the Mexican fans were treated to an
eight-touch passing display and showed their pleasure with an equal amount of olés.
With an extra man on the pitch, Mexico could afford to give Blanco a
rest and bring on Francisco Palencia for the last ten minutes.
Even with a man less, Croatia needed to throw caution to the wind a
little and take a few risks. The third-placed team from France 98 looked out of their
depth here and really need to watch the video to see just how lethargic they were if they
want to do better against Italy and Ecuador.
Croatia 0 -
Man of the Match:
Cuauhtemoc Blanco - His run into the area resulted in the penalty, which he converted, and
the dismisal of Boris Zivkovic.
Boris Zivkovic (59 mins)
1 Stipe Pletikosa; 6 Boris Zivkovic, 21 Robert Kovac, 3 Josip Simunic, 17 Robert Jarni; 4
Stjepan Tomas, 14 Zvonimir Soldo, 10 Niko Kovac; 8 Robert Prosinecki (5 Milan Rapajc - 46
mins); 9 Davor Suker (15 Danijel Saric - 64 mins), 11 Alen Boksic (13 Mario Stanic - 67
1 Oscar Perez; 5 Manuel Vidrio, 4 Rafael Marquez, 16 Salvador Carmona; 7 Ramon Morales, 19
Gabriel Caballero, 6 Gerardo Torrado, 11 Braulio Luna, 13 Sigifredo Mercado; 10 Cuauhtemoc
Blanco (17 Francisco Palencia - 79 mins), 9 Jared Borgetti (15 Luis Hernández - 68 mins).
Referee: Jun Lu
Denmark, France, Senegal, Uruguay.
Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain,
Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Turkey.
South Korea, United States.
Korea First Round Matches.
Cameroon, Germany, Republic of Ireland,
Argentina, England, Nigeria, Sweden.
Croatia, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico.
Belgium, Japan, Russia, Tunisia.
Japan First Round Matches.
2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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