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Page last updated at 22:16 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 23:16 UK

Klasnic 'fairytale' thrills Bilic

Bilic believes his side can win the tournament

Croatia manager Slaven Bilic was overjoyed for Ivan Klasnic following his match-winning goal against Poland.

Striker Klasnic underwent a kidney transplant last year and still has to wear a protective fibreglass shield.

"We are proud of him," said Bilic, who saw his side top Group B ahead of Germany after winning all three games.

"He is a very strong personality. When we first learnt the news about his kidney operation, it was him who raised our morale. It really is a fairytale."

Only recalled to the Croatia squad in March, Klasnic took his chance in fine fashion to break the deadlock against Poland after 52 minutes.

"I'm happy that I'm here at all," said the Werder Bremen striker, who was making his first appearance at Euro 2008.

"As I said once, this is like a bonus from God. It's like a dream. I thank God that I'm alive and that I can play football.

"I'm proud to be a part of this team. Hopefully, my coach will think of me when we play the quarter-finals."

Ivan Klasnic (kneeling) celebrates his winner with Danijel Pranjic
Klasnic's goal prompted emotional scenes
With qualification already secured ahead of Monday's game, Bilic made nine changes to the side that beat Germany.

But Bilic's side still outclassed Poland, and were only denied a more convincing victory by a stunning performance from Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

"We are not the first team to win three group matches at a European Championship but there have not been many who have," said a proud Bilic.

"My players were fabulous. They were not only courageous but tactically perfect and played to a very high technical quality.

"I knew that these guys could deliver this type of match. This is a deserved victory. If Boruc hadn't been so brilliant we could have been 2-0 up at half-time."

Group B
16 June 2008 21:40
    P GD PTS
1 Croatia 3 3 9
2 Germany 3 2 6
3 Austria 3 -2 1
4 Poland 3 -3 1

see also
Poland 0-1 Croatia
16 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Poland team guide
15 May 08 |  Poland
Croatia team guide
15 May 08 |  Croatia

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