Thursday 22 February 2018

The game at a glance

Luka Modric (Croatia)

Although not operating at full throttle, it was easy to see why so many clubs covet the Croatian playmaker. Everything is done at his pace, his passes are unerring and, when he floats on to the ball, danger is never far away. A class act.

Talking point

Has any of this changed Giovanni Trapattoni's mind ahead of next month's big games? Stephen Hunt played well, but Aiden McGeady's pace was missing while Stephen Ward was solid but suspect when the cross-field ball came down his way, and Kevin Kilbane's experience may see him start against the Slovaks.

Referee watch

Norway's Tom Harold Hagen wasn't being kind to the visitors during the first half when he refused to award them a penalty from either of their strong claims. Otherwise, a quiet night.

Crowd watch

The small pocket of Croats made plenty of noise, but the usual factors meant the Irish floating fan stayed away from what was an attractive friendly as the official attendance of 20,149 demonstrates.

Match stats

Yellow cards: Ireland 1 (Gibson 55); Croatia 1 (Vukojevic 52)

Red cards: Ireland 0; Croatia 0

Shots on target: Ireland 5; Croatia 2

Shots off target: Ireland 4; Croatia 6

Corners: Ireland 3; Croatia 3

Possession: Ireland 37pc; Croatia 63pc

Attendance: 20,149

And finally...

Croatia proved an excellent choice. They have a key double header themselves next month and Slaven Bilic named a strong side. Their possession football and the probing work of Modric meant this was good practice for an Ireland team who will need heightened concentration levels against Slovakia and Russia.

Irish Independent

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