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Republic of Ireland 1-3 Croatia

Mario Mandzukic of Croatia celebrates scoring their first goal with the bench during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C between Ireland and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 10, 2012 in Poznan, Poland (credit: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
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Republic of Ireland's first game at Euro 2012 ended in defeat on Sunday night as they were beaten 3-1 by an impressive Croatia side in Group C.

Ireland made the worst possible start as a Croatia corner wasn't cleared and eventually landed with Mario Mandzukic, who headed past an out-of-position Shay Given from 12 yards out to put Slaven Bilic's side ahead after just three minutes.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side responded well to going a goal down, however, and looked threatening going forward as the game progressed.

And after 19 minutes, the game was level again as Vedran Corluka conceded a free-kick, from which the full-back allowed Sean St Ledger to get in behind him and head home head from Aiden McGeady's delivery.

The Irish fans erupted, and celebrating by doing the Poznan. In Poznan.

This time it was Croatia's turn to react well to conceding, but Ireland dealt well with what was thrown at them, at least up until the 43rd minute, when Nikica Jelavic restored their lead. Stephen Ward failed to clear a Croatian free-kick and his sliced kick fell to Jelavic, who remained calm and cool as he lifted the ball past Given.

Things got worse for Ireland after the break as they conceded just as quickly as they had in the first half, with Mandzukic heading against the post, and his effort going into the net courtesy of an unlucky deflection off the head of Given.

Despite going 3-1 down, Ireland refused to let their heads drop, and they should have been awarded a penalty just after the hour mark when Robbie Keane went down in the area under a challenge from Gordon Schildenfeld. Replays show the Croatian made clear contact with the striker.

But as the second half progressed, things become too easy for Croatia, with Trapattoni's men giving the ball away too easily on a number of occasions, and ultimately running out of ideas.

Based on this performance, Croatia will fancy their chances against Spain and Italy next week. For Ireland, making it out of Group C now looks like an almost impossible task.

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Republic of Ireland 1-3 Croatia

Republic of Ireland's first game at Euro 2012 ended in defeat on Sunday night as they were beaten 3-1 by an impressive Croatia side in Group C.

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