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Srna spikes Sweden's guns

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

[1] A superb free-kick from Darijo Srna was enough to give Croatia a 1-0 win away against listless Sweden in their FIFA World Cup Group 8 encounter.

Superb effort

[2] The FC Shakhtar Donetsk player took full advantage of a chance 25 metres from goal after 64 minutes, dipping a superb effort over the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner of Andreas Isaksson's goal to give coach Zlatko Kranjcar his second win in as many competitive games since taking over from Otto Baric as national team coach.

Losing momentum

[3] The first half saw the home side come out with all guns blazing and Christian Wilhelmsson on the right was a particularly menacing presence as Croatia initially struggled to find their footing in Gothenburg's Ullevi stadium. However, with free-kicks continually interrupting their flow, the home side seemed to lose their way.

Larsson effort

[4] The Croatian forwards offered little threat at the other end but it still took until the 42nd minute for Sweden to test goalkeeper Tomislav Butina as Henrik Larsson ran on to a darting through-ball on the edge of the area. His shot was low and powerful but it pinged harmlessly into Butina's legs.

Ominous sign

[5] For a moment it seemed that effort would lift Sweden as Anders Svensson missed the target with two chances fashioned from set-pieces, but even though they started the second period looking fiery, it was to prove a false dawn. A Srna free-kick that deflected wide off the wall three minutes after the break was an ominous sign of what was to come.

Decisive moment

[6] Sweden continued to press but with the Croatia defence finding it far too easy to block a procession of free-kicks and corners, the stage was set for Srna to find the target in spectacular style only a few minutes after captain Niko Kovac seemed to have passed up Croatia's best chance from a Dado Pršo cross.

Nervous moments

[7] The home side nearly drew level after 71 minutes as Butina dropped the ball into his own net under pressure from Ibrahimovic but the referee disallowed the goal. And Croatia nearly suffered a different self-inflicted wound as the goalkeeper swiped a miscued Jurica Vranješ clearance just over the crossbar.

One-handed save

[8] However, panic never quite set in for Croatia and they could have added to their advantage as an almost casual effort from substitute Jerko Leko whistled over Isaksson's crossbar. Sweden continued to press but as Butina made a great one-handed save to deny Wilhelmsson from an acute angle at the death, their fate was sealed.

Darijo Srna celebrates his goal with Igor Tudor