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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
How they qualified: Croatia
Croatia reached the Euro 2004 finals after a tense play-off victory over Slovenia.

Croatia celebrate after their victory over Slovenia
07.09.02: Estonia (h) 0-0
12.10.02: Bulgaria (a) 0-2
29.03.03: Belgium (h) 4-0
02.04.03: Andorra (h) 2-0
11.06.03: Estonia (a) 1-0
06.09.03: Andorra (a) 3-0
10.09.03: Belgium (a) 1-2
11.10.03: Bulgaria (h) 1-0
15.11.03: Slovenia (h) 1-1
19.11.03: Slovenia (a) 1-0

However, for Otto Baric's side, even the playoffs seemed an unlikely prospect following two unimpressive opening performances.

They began with 0-0 draw against Estonia and followed that up with a 2-0 defeat away to Bulgaria.

Things were not looking good for the Croats. They failed to shine at the 2002 World Cup and now the pressure was on to show the sort of form they produced during the 1990s.

They grabbed a welcome, and stunning, victory at home to Belgium, with goals coming from Darijo Srna, Dado Prso, Tomislav Maric and Jerko Leko.

Less impressive was their 2-0 win over Andorra, which left coach Baric wondering why his team had not scored more against a team of "Andorra's quality".

Estonia proved even tougher opposition before a Niko Kovac strike after 76 minutes settled the match.

A far more convincing win over Andorra followed, before a disappointing defeat in Belgium.

A frantic end to the first half saw three goals scored in the space of eight minutes.

Striker Wesley Sonck's free-kick gave the home side the lead in the 35th minute, but just a few moments later Dario Simic's header levelled matters.

Sonck, however, scored his second just before the break.

Victory in the final match at home to qualifiers Bulgaria was now a must.

Defeat or a draw would mean they would have to rely on Belgium doing the same in their game against Estonia.

Belgium won, but so did Croatia as a result of Ivica Olic's strike early in the second half.

Baric's men were pitted against neighbours Slovenia. They drew the first game 1-1 in Zagreb, with Ermin Siljak's equaliser giving the Slovenians a crucial away goal after Prso put the home side ahead.

Croatia looked to be on the verge of not making it to Portugal when 30 minutes from the end of the second leg defender Igor Tudor was sent off.

But Prso, who has made a big name for himself at Monaco, scored the all-important winner to the delight of the team and travelling fans.

Team P W D L GF GAPts
Bulgaria 8 5 2 1 13 4 17
Croatia 8 5 1 2 12 4 16
Belgium 8 5 1 2 11 9 16
Estonia 8 2 2 4 4 6 8
Andorra 8 0 0 8 1 18 0

Links to more Croatia stories




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