Euro 2016: Flare-up between Italy, Croatia as Dutch earn morale boosting 6-0 win
Croatia extended their unbeaten run over Italy to seven matches after holding the Azzurri to a 1-1 draw in a Euro 2016 qualifier that saw a 10-minute stoppage after visiting fans targeted ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon with flares.
The evening started well for the Azzurri as Antonio Candreva drilled home to give them the lead 11 minutes in at the San Siro.
However, Buffon allowed a shot from Ivan Perisic to go under his body and into the net to bring Croatia level four minutes later, and the game was then halted for 10 minutes in the second half when away supporters sent a hail of flares down onto the pitch from high in the stands.
Real Madrid would not appreciate the fact that their Croatian playmaker Luka Modric hobbled off before the half-hour to be replaced by Inter Milan playmaker Mateo Kovacic.
Riot police clashed with fans in the Croatian section of the ground but the visitors could have won it late on, Perisic flashing a shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Croatian fans’ notorious behaviour, and their traditional use of flares during matches was a subject on which Croatia coach Niko Kovac issued an immediate apology.
“I want to say sorry for what happened with our fans,” said Kovac, a former captain of Croatia. “There are kids in the stadium. This is not football and it’s not a fair image of our country or our people. We’re sorry and disappointed for what happened.”
Italy and Croatia are level on 10 points atop the group after four games.
Netherlands 6 Latvia 0
The Netherlands recorded a morale-boosting win in qualifying for Euro 2016. Guus Hiddink had earlier indicated that he would resign as coach of the Dutch if they slipped up against Latvia and continue a stuttering start to their bid to reach the finals in France.
The World Cup semi-finalists recorded their second win in four games in Group A by thumping Latvia 6-0 in Amsterdam as the outstanding Arjen Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar both scored twice.
Robben scored two goals against Latvia. Photo: AFP
Captain Robin van Persie and Jeffrey Bruma were also on target to ensure that Hiddink – only appointed for a second spell in charge of the Oranje in the summer – would not be going anywhere.
The only blotch on an otherwise fine evening for the Netherlands was the knee injury that forced Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind off in the first half, although Hiddink’s side continue to trail group leaders the Czech Republic by six points.
Blind was hurt after just 20 minutes following a collision with Eduards Visnakovs.
“It is his medial ligament. It could be a strain or a tear,” said Dutch coach Guus Hiddink after the game.
Other Euro results:
Norway 1-0 Azerbajian
Czech Republic 2-1 Iceland
Turkey 3-1 Kazakhstan
Liechtenstein 1-0 Moldova
Malta 1-1 Bulgaria
San Marino 0-0 Estonia
Wales 0-0 Belgium
Source: AFP, Reuters, Vine, Facebook