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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 25 March, 2019
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Liveblog

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Good evening one and all.

Tonight’s liveblog will take you through the goings as Group D draws to a close.

Spain, who are already assured of qualification after two wins from two, take on Croatia in Bordeaux while the Czech Republic know they must get a win against Turkey in Lens to give themselves a good chance of continuing in the tournament.

They still have a chance of finishing second depending on how Croatia, who are without Modric and Madzukic tonight, fare against Spain.

Here is how things stand ahead of tonight’s games:

As usual, feel free to get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or the comments section below with score predictions and the like.

Full team news will follow shortly.

Let’s have a quick look at the permutations here and try to make it as simple as possible….

  • Spain: Have qualified for the last-16 but could still finish second if they lose to Croatia tonight. A point tonight would secure top spot and a last-16 clash against third place from Group B (Slovakia), E (Ireland/Belgium or Sweden) or F (any one Hungary, Iceland, Portugal and Austria).
  • Croatia: Would top the group with a win, a draw would guarantee second spot and last-16 clash against Italy (Group E winners). If they lose to Spain and the Czechs beat Turkey, it will come down to goal difference to decide second and third.
  • Czech Republic: Realistically must win. If they do, and Croatia lose to Spain, they could snatch second spot depending on goal difference. Either way, a win would guarantee progress, at worst as one of the best third-placed teams.
  • Turkey: Have to win, and win handsomely, to have any chance of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.

Clear as mud eh?

Czech Republic: Cech, Kaderabek, Sivok, Hubnik, Pudil, Pavelka, Darida, Plasil, Dockal, Necid, Krejci. Subs: Vaclik, Kadlec, Gebre Selassie, Limbersky, Rosicky, Skoda, Kolar, Suchy, Sural, Skalak, Lafata, Koubek.

The Czech Republic have made four changes. Tomas Rosicky was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury and he is among those to miss out. The others are David Limbersky, Jiri Skalak, David Lafata.

In to the side after their 2-2 draw against Croatia last time out come Borek Dockal, Tomas Necid, David Pavelka and Danile Pudil.

Turkey have made three changes as they chase their first point and goal of the tournament. Recent Borussia Dortmund signing Emre Mor comes into their attack.

Elsewhere, Ismail Koybasi and Volkan Sen come into the side in place of Hakan Calhanoglu and Oguzhan Ozyakup.

Turkey: Babacan, Gonul, Topal, Balta, Koybasi, Mor, Tufan, Inan, Sen, Turan, Yilmaz. Subs: Kivrak, Kaya, Calik, Sahin, Calhanoglu, Tosun, Sahan, Ozyakup, Erkin, Malli, Ozbayrakli, Tekin.

You’d be expecting wins for Spain and the Czechs tonight surely….

For those of you searching for coverage, RTÉ have Turkey v Czech Republic and TV3 are showing Spain v Croatia. Both kick off at 8pm.

Let’s hope that Croatian fans behave themselves tonight, some nasty rumours doing the rounds online that they are threatening an attack on the referee, among other things.

The anthems are being simultaneously sung as we speak.

Turkey and Spain first (as the designated ‘away’ teams).

And now it’s the turn of Croatia and the Czech Republic.

2Mins

Croatia have started the livelier of the two sides in Bordeaux.

6Mins

Croatia captain Srna with the first chance of the day in Bordeaux but he fires his half-volley high and wide.

9Mins

Great football from Spain. Fabregas starts the move down the right-hand side as he tries to slide a ball beyond the Croatian defensive line.

The ball is intercepted but Silva picks up the break and dribbles delightfully in-field before picking an onrushing Fabregas out with a lovely reverse pass. The Chelsea man dinks it over the advancing goalkeeper and Morata taps it in from close range.

12Mins

Burak Yilmaz breaks the deadlock in Lens, with what is the Turks’ first goal of the tournament.  A massive blow for Czech Republic’s hopes of qualification but this could be a HUGE goal for Northern Ireland.

As it stands, Michael O’Neill’s side would go through as one of the best third-placed teams.

17Mins

OFF THE BAR — De Gea has a meltdown in the Spanish goal, getting caught in possession after taking a heavy touch. It breaks out to Rakitic, the Barca man chips it towards goal with the Manchester United stopper in no man’s land. But his effort comes down off the bar and Spain manage to clear the danger through Pique.

De Gea breathes a massive sigh of relief.

15Mins

Two entertaining games already, what more would you want on a Tuesday night?

21Mins

Spain-Croatia has settled down a bit after a frantic opening 15 minutes. Neither side keeping the ball as well as you’d expect though.

At least Croatia have an excuse with Modric on the sidelines.

22Mins

CHANCE for Turkey but Inan sends his free-kick from 25m into the wall.

22Mins

David Silva has been the best player on the field in Bordeaux, he’s all over the place and causing Croatia all sorts of problems.

25Mins

Free-kick for Spain in a dangerous position, Silva looks favourite to take. Ramos also standing over it.

25Mins

But Silva takes it, after winning the free himself, and barely gets it half-way up the wall. Disappointing from the magician after such a bright start.

34Mins

35Mins

10 minutes until half time in both Group D fixtures. Czech Republic v Turkey has been the livelier of the two.

38Mins

WHAT A SAVE — Plasil lets rip from about 25 yards and his effort is flying towards the top corner. Babacan, however, is equal the task and somehow keeps it out.

42Mins

Fabregas and Silva have been pulling the strings for Spain but they haven’t had many clearcut chances in the opening 40 minutes.

44Mins

That Spanish shirt though — what were they thinking???

46Mins

Kalinic gets on the end of a delicious cross from Perisic to flick the ball past the helpless De Gea. Questions will be asked of Ramos and Morata in the build-up.

45Mins

Well they were two relatively entertaining halves of football, and thankfully there was no sign of reported plots of fan violence.

Spain will be kicking themselves after letting in such a soft goal so close to the break while Croatia must now have the belief that they can go on and win the group.

As things stand, Spain and Croatia would advance from the group, Spain as winners and Turkey and Czech Republic would be eliminated.

The second half in Turkey v Czech Republic will surely be a cracker with both sides needing at least two goals — the Czechs to turn it around and get a win and the Turks to win handsomely enough to improve their miserable goal difference.

The real winners there would be Northern Ireland who would be guaranteed a spot in the last-16 as it stands, potentially against Wales.

45Mins

There has been a nasty clash of heads in the Turkish box and Gokhan is now be attended to by medical staff. He’s conscious but bleeding heavily from a cut above his eyebrow.

56Mins

Spain have started the second half well and are dominating possession and territory.

58Mins

CHANCE for Croatia. Srna lifts a great cross into the area, De Gea gets a fingertip to it and the danger is eventually snuffed out after a speculative overhead goes well wide.

58Mins

Croatia have been impressive since the interval.

66Mins

Where has this come from?

Tufan fires into the top corner after the Czechs fail to deal with a free-kick. That will get the nerves jangling up north.

67Mins

CHANCE for Ramos but the Real Madrid defender fails to make the most of his opportunity.

69Mins

Looks soft enough, Silva runs across Vrsaljko and tumbles under the contact from behind. It was one of those awkward ones where you wonder where the defender was expected to go.

71Mins

Ramos to take the peno.

72Mins

It’s a very poor peno by Ramos. Subasic is well off his line by the time it was taken but in truth it was quite central and at a nice height for the stopper. He sends it to his left and Croatia clear the danger.

72Mins

Have to feel that it was a fair outcome, it would have been unfair on Croatia to go behind on the back of that decision.

76Mins

Spain are not looking their usual composed selves. Ramos in particular seems to have gone to pieces after that penalty miss — his control lets him down and he runs the ball over the sideline from a fairly routine situation.

78Mins

About 12 minutes of normal time left in both games.

86Mins

Into the last five minutes of normal time in both fixtures. Still plenty of time for drama, either way Northern Ireland’s knockout spot looks pretty secure, unless Turkey can conjure another two goals in the next seven or eight minutes.

89Mins

A stunning counter-attack from Croatia. Kalinic breaks through the centre of the field and feeds Perisic to his left. The talented midfielder puts the head down and his low shot beats De Gea at his near post, after taking a small deflection.

What a result this would be for a Modric-less Croatia.

By my reckoning that would mean an Italy v Spain last-16 clash.

91Mins

Five minutes of injury time in Lens, three in Bordeaux.

90Mins

Wow, what a night of drama.

A woeful night for the Czechs and the Spanish who most expected the get the wins this evening.

No Modric, no problem for classy Croatia. They caused Spain all sorts of problems. But the Spanish will be left to rue a number of missed opportunities, particularly Ramos’ awful penalty miss.

That’s all for tonight’s liveblog. It’s the big one tomorrow, let’s hope we can join Northern Ireland in the last-16. COYBIG.

Match reports and reaction to follow.

About the author:

Alan Waldron

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