It would appear as though three of the four Euro playoff matches have already been settled following the anticlimactic ending of the first leg. Croatia played in Turkey and returned home with a three-goal lead. Thanks to Ivica Olic, they managed to score in the first two minutes, taking the wind out of the sails of the Turks, who just couldn’t seem to get into the match with no shot-on goals. Should Croatia score once in Zagreb, Turkey will need to score 4.
Guus Hiddink may have taken Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, but his outlook for Euro 2012 is not as bright, and he will now be turning his attention to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup instead. Alongside the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra in Group D, Turkey’s future looms tense as Estonia and Hungary have upped their respective games significantly.
The Czech Republic had a 2-0 win over Montenegro. The visitors would have been devastated to give up a second goal deep into injury time. A 1-0 loss wouldn’t have been a disaster but their job is infinitely more difficult now.
Ireland look like they will be returning to tournament football following a 4-0 win in Estonia. Keith Andrews set the pace, scoring an early goal shortly before Andrei Stepanov was sent off. Ireland scored two more in the second half, following which another Estonian player was sent off. A Robbie Keane penalty brought home a fourth goal, pushing the Irish through to victory.
The Bosnia Herzegovina – Portugal match ended in a disappointing tie of 0-0, as Vedad Ibišević missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock in the final minutes of the game. The return leg in Portugal is finely poised, with Portugal having home-field advantage and Bosnia hoping for an away-goal to break their spirits. On paper, the Portuguese should have been far stronger with the likes of Ronaldo, Nani, Pepe, Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles and Helder Postiga at their disposal, but the Bosnians held firm.