Saturday June 8th, 2002
Italy vs Croatia in Ibaraki
While this Italian side didn't seem as hungry as the one against Ecuador, Croatia began much better than they did against Mexico.
The game started very evenly balanced, until Nesta was injured in the
Although Croatia pushed up and troubled Buffon in the Italian goal,
they failed to score and Italy slowly found their rhythm towards the end of the
The Totti and Vieiri combination didn't cause any real threats though
and unless things change in the second half, Croatia must feel they can get a result in
Ibaraki; to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Half-time: Italy 0 - Croatia 0
Vieri had a goal disallowed for offside, five minutes after the
restart, as Italy tried to up the tempo.
On Italy's next serious attack, Christian Vieri netted his third goal of the
tournament.... heading in Christaino Doni's right wing cross, after approach work from
Totti - 55 mins.
After Vieri missed a chance to put Italy two goals up, Croatia countered with Robert Jarni
crossing for substitute Ivica Olic to head the goal and level the score - 73 mins.
Croatia continued to stretch Italy and had a few chances to go in
front in the next couple of minutes.
And the renewed pressure paid off as Nico Kovac headed into the area for Milan Rapajc to
turn and float the ball over Buffon with his left foot - 76 mins.
Three minutes from time, after concentrating for a while, Francesco
Totti curled a free-kick onto the inside of Croatia's left goal post. Stipe Pletikosa was
totally surprised as the bounced across his goal and could think himself lucky that no-one
was following up to poke it in.
With four minutes added on, Italy continued to push up in search of a
point at least and Filippo Inzaghi flicked in an equaliser.... that was amazingly ruled
France, Portugal, Argentina and now Italy have all suffered defeats at
the hands of supposedly lesser teams, to make the 2002 World Cup a delight for fans of the
Man of the Match:
Milan Rapajc - Probably the best player in the rejuvenated Croatia team and definitely the
Robert Kovac (39 mins)
Christian Vieri (51 mins)
1 Gianluigi Buffon; 5 Fabio Cannavaro, 3 Paolo Maldini, 13 Alessandro Nesta (23 Marco
Materazzi - 23 mins), 2 Christian Panucci; 11 Christaino Doni (9 Filippo Inzaghi - 79
mins), 17 Damiano Tommasi, 19 Gianluca Zambrotta, 6 Cristiano Zanetti; 10 Francesco Totti,
21 Christian Vieri.
1 Stipe Pletikosa; 17 Robert Jarni, 21 Robert Kovac, 15 Danijel Saric, 3 Josip Simunic, 4
Stejpan Tomas; 10 Nico Kovac, 5 Milan Rapajc (20 Dario Simic - 79 mins), 14 Zvonimir Soldo
(16 Jurica Vranjes - 63 mins), 7 Davor Vugrinec (18 Ivica Olic - 57 mins); 11 Alen Boksic.
Referee: Graham Poll
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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