Croatia made a flying start to Euro 2012 after beating the Republic of Ireland 3-1 in their Group C opener Sunday evening.
The Hamburg striker Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with a third-minute header. Darijo Srna's right-wing cross clipped full-back Stephen Ward and sat up for Mandzukic. Mandzukic had slipped as Srna prepared to deliver, but managed to right himself and head towards the bottom corner.
Sean St Ledger headed Ireland level after 19 minutes Aiden McGeady takes a free kick wide on the left and delivers a curling ball towards the back post. Sean St Ledger spins Corluka, runs to the back post and heads in from close range. But Croatia had cancelled out Sean St Ledger's 19th-minute equaliser and regained the lead three minutes before the break.
Tottenham's Luka Modric drives a low shot into a crowd of players and the ball is miscued by an Ireland defender straight to Everton striker Nikica Jelavic, who lifts the ball over Shay Given and into the net. Jelavic runs over to Bilic to celebrate his third goal for the national team.
And the game was as good as over four minutes after the restart when a second Mandzukic header from a Perisic cross found the back off the net this time via the head of the unlucky Given as the ball bounced back into play off the post.
Slaven Bilic men were playing with the greater guile and craft and, after recovering from the setback of surrendering their early lead, they started to dominate possession and create chances.
Modric was the instigator, orchestrating play from increasingly advanced positions and picking passes at will.
Ivan Perisic twice went close with majestic long-range volleyed efforts and Modric hit a well-struck first-time 25-m effort straight at Given.
Croatia had chances to extend the lead, the best of which saw a fabulous sweeping move almost end with Sevilla's midfielder Ivan Rakitic firing centimeters wide from 20 meters.
More importantly, Slaven Bilic's men were good value for a victory which left them top of Group C following the 1-1 draw between Spain and Italy earlier in the day.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Vukojevic, Rakitic (Dujmovic 90), Modric, Perisic (Eduardo 89), Mandzukic, Jelavic (Kranjcar 72).
Subs Not Used: Kelava, Simunic, Buljat, Pranjic, Badelj, Vrsaljko, Kalinic, Vida, Subasic.
Booked: Modric, Kranjcar.
Goals: Mandzukic 3, 49, Jelavic 43
Ireland: Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, McGeady (Cox 54), Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle (Walters 53), Keane (Long 75).
Subs Not Used: Westwood, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea,Green, McClean, Forde.
Goal: St. Ledger 19.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland).