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Analysis: Rakitic eclipses Barca pal Turan as Croatia win

Football Soccer - Turkey v Croatia - EURO 2016 - Group D - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - 12/6/16 Croatia's Ivan Rakitic applauds the fans after being substituted REUTERS/Christian Hartmann Livepic
Football Soccer - Turkey v Croatia - EURO 2016 - Group D - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - 12/6/16Croatia's Ivan Rakitic applauds the fans after being substitutedREUTERS/Christian HartmannLivepic

By Matt Smith

PARIS (Reuters) - Ivan Rakitic outshone Barcelona team mate Arda Turan as Croatia ran out 1-0 winners against Turkey at Euro 2016 on Sunday, a victory that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

The duo, along with Luka Modric, were the standout names on the team sheets and it was the Real Madrid man who settled matters with a dipping 25-metre volley as halftime neared.

That was a rare foray forward for the diminutive midfielder who orchestrated play from in front of his central defenders to produce a man-of-the-match performance.

Modric and Rakitic, La Liga rivals and with three Champions League winners medals between them, were too sharp for Turkey and their influence grew as the match wore on.

Rakitic was deployed in an advanced midfield role and was sometimes stationed ahead of Croatia's main goal threat, striker Mario Mandzukic.

Swiss-born maestro Rakitic too often dawdled on the ball in the opening period, allowing Turkey's defenders to get back into position as Croatia's bright start dimmed and the game turned into a niggly midfield stalemate.

Turan made little impact from the left although the Turks had the best chance ahead of Modric's opener, an Ozan Tufan header from Gokhan Gonul's right-wing centre that Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic clumsily gathered.

The centre of the pitch was congested and Croatia found space to cross from both flanks through Ivan Perisic down the left and captain and right back Darijo Srna on the opposite side.

The presence of the muscular Mandzukic made this a sensible tactic but in the first half the delivery from wide areas disappointed.

SECOND HALF

Turkey coach Fatih Terim introduced winger Volkan Sen for Oguzhan Ozyakup in the second half, allowing Turan to move infield.

The captain, though, remained peripheral and was substituted after 65 minutes, Terim's pre-match assurance that Turan's lack of playing time this season would not matter proving overly optimistic.

Croatia also changed their approach in the second period, upping the pace of their passing as Rakitic drove forward, his neat control increasingly troubling a makeshift Turkey defence that included midfielder Mehmet Topal at centre back.

Quicker to cross or play the through ball, Croatia's attackers found more space and they fluffed several chances to extend their lead, Srna scuffing wide with keeper Volkan Babacan stranded while Ante Cacic's men also hit the crossbar twice.

Croatia, unlike England the previous night, were not made to regret those misses, a last-ditch sliding clearance from the bloodied Vedran Corluka in added time the only real moment of anxiety.

With the unfancied Czech Republic up next on Friday, Cacic will be hoping to all but ensure qualification for the last 16 before his team's final Group D game against champions Spain.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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