Siljak's strike gives Slovenia home advantage
Sunday 16 November 2003
Ermin Siljak, Slovenia's top scorer in their European Championship campaign, was on target again midway through the first half of their play-off against Croatia in Zagreb as his team earned a 1-1 draw to take back to Ljubljana on Wednesday.
In front of a 35,000 crowd at the Maksimir Stadium, a disappointing Croatia went ahead after only five minutes through Dado Prso, the Monaco striker who scored four in his club's 8-3 Champions League win over Deportivo La Coruña recently and is coveted by several Premiership clubs. Prso beat goalkeeper Mladen Dabanovic with a tap-in set up by an Ivica Mornar header from Niko Kovac's free-kick.
But Slovenia, who had suffered only two defeats during their qualifying campaign, both against their group's comfortable winners, France, fought back and Siljak headed the equaliser. But he will miss the return after being booked.
Otto Baric, the Croatia coach, sent on midfielders Milan Rapaic and Giovanni Rosso at the start of the second half, and Darijo Srna on the hour, as the home side tried to build a lead for the second leg. But Slovenia's only other alarm came when Prso's header was blocked by Dabanovic and a post.
Baric remains confident. "It wasn't a day for our forwards, but I know exactly what to do to improve our chances in Slovenia," he said. "It does not matter that we play the decisive game away because our defence will be stronger [Bayern Munich's Robert Kovac returns from suspension] and we are certainly capable of scoring in Ljubljana." But with the away goals rule in operation, a 0-0 draw on Wednesday will give the Slovenians a third major tournament appearance in four years after Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup .
Latest in Sport
VIDEO: Did Marcos Maidana bite Floyd Mayweather during their bout?
Manchester United vs QPR comment: Glimpse of Radamel Falcao lifts United hearts but Daley Blind keeps things ticking
Hull City vs West Ham preview: Sam Allardyce backs Alex Song to inspire new team-mates
Rio Ferdinand: David Moyes's tactics were embarrassing and I wanted to grab him when he dropped me in front of Manchester United squad
Manchester United vs QPR player ratings: Who was the star man? Angel Di Maria? Daley Blind? Wayne Rooney?
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article