Euro 2020: Kovacic and Croatia take first point

An improved second-half performance by Croatia against Czech Republic earned a 1-1 draw and kept their hopes of progress in Euro 2020 alive. Mateo Kovacic played all but the closing few minutes.

In a game at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Croatia needed to respond to their opening-game defeat against England but the two sides cancelled each other out for most of the first half, and the Czechs took a 1-0 lead as half-time approached.

The goal was a controversial one, a penalty awarded after the referee reviewed on screen an aerial challenge between former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren and Patrik Schick, the man whose goals defeated Scotland. The eventual decision was dangerous use of the elbow, to the dismay of Kovacic and his team-mates, and Schick got up to score the spot-kick and move ahead as tournament topscorer.

Croatia’s best chance of the first half came almost immediately after but was wasted by Ante Rebic, who earlier had blocked a poor clearance by the Czech keeper but the ricochet went to safety.

Kovacic was taking his side’s corners, and from one of those a clever move led to an Ivan Perisic shot but it was straight at the goalie.

The Chelsea midfielder did his best to get his team moving forward throughout the game. He shot over from distance early in the second half but Croatia did not have to wait long for an equaliser – Perisic cutting in from the left to score well.

Czech Republic, who had former Chelsea man Tomas Kalas in their defence, had their moments in the second half but the best chance of another goal came at the other end of the pitch. Substitute Nikola Vlasic shot narrowly wide for Croatia.

The 2018 World Cup finalists face Scotland in their final game.