Sun, Jun 08, 2014 - Page 18 News List

WORLD CUP: Jelavic leads Croatia to victory over Socceroos

AFP, SALVADOR, Brazil

Nikica Jelavic gave Croatia a 1-0 win over Australia in a warm-up game on Friday, ahead of their World Cup opener against hosts Brazil next week.

The Hull City striker broke the deadlock in the 58th minute after he benefited from a deflected ball and slotted home unmarked in the penalty area.

Jelavic’s goal came after delightful interplay between Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric and Inter’s Mateo Kovacic on the fringe of the penalty area.

Modric was brought off moments later by manager Niko Kovac unscathed, ahead of Croatia’s opening Group A match with Brazil in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

However, Croatia may have lost their left-back Danijel Pranjic with an ankle injury midway through the first half.

The 18th-ranked Croatia took time to settle against the robust Socceroos, but took control of the friendly in the second half, dominating possession with their precise intricate passing.

Australia, chasing their first win in 14 attempts in South America, had their best period of the game early on, with the New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill putting himself about.

Skipper Mile Jedinak put in 74 minutes in his first run since a groin injury playing for Crystal Palace in the final day of the English Premier League season.

However, the 62nd-rated Socceroos, the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, tailed off in the second half and rarely threatened as Croatia began to take charge and got themselves into a passing rhythm.

COSTA RICA V IRELAND

AFP, PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania

Ten-man Costa Rica played to a 1-1 draw with Ireland on Friday in the Ticos’ final friendly before they head to the World Cup finals.

Costa Rica had been hoping for a morale-boosting victory after falling 3-1 to World Cup-bound Japan on Monday.

However, their chances dimmed in the 41st minute when defender Giancarlo Gonzalez was sent off for elbowing Ireland forward Kevin Doyle.

Doyle had opened the scoring for Ireland in the 18th minute with a crisp header of a cross from Marc Wilson.

Down a man, Costa Rica continued to press in the second half and got their chance after Ireland goalkeeper David Forde brought down Marco Urena in the area.

Celso Borges converted the resulting penalty in the 64th minute and Patrick Pemberton, who replaced Keylor Navas in the Costa Rican goal at halftime, kept it level when he saved a penalty from Robbie Keane that was awarded after a foul by Heiner Mora.

Costa Rica are to open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on Saturday and are also to face Italy and England in Group D.

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