Croatia’s Modric shrugs off brush with fan

Paris (AFP) – Croatia’s Luka Modric said he was so thrilled by his match-winning goal against Turkey in Euro 2016 on Sunday that he did not realise a supporter had gatecrashed his celebrations.

The Real Madrid playmaker gave his side a 1-0 win in the Group D match at Parc des Princes with a sweetly struck 41st-minute volley from outside the box that flashed past Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Babacan.

He celebrated with a knee-slide towards the corner flag and was quickly swamped by team-mates, as well as a fan sporting a Croatia replica top and red and white painted head, who was led away by stewards.

Asked if the incident had scared him, Modric told reporters: “It could have been also a supporter from Turkey, but thank God it was our supporter! After scoring this kind of goal, I didn’t even notice.

“It was only afterwards I noticed that there was someone who wasn’t my team-mate. What happened happened. He wasn’t dangerous. If he went onto the pitch, it was with a positive attitude.”

Flares were also set off in the Croatia end after Modric’s goal, while a firecracker made a loud bang at the other end of the ground early in the second half.

Croatia have never lost a match in which Modric has scored — something which has now happened on 11 occasions — and the 30-year-old was voted man of the match.

“Luka really deserves to be talked about, especially after this match,” said Croatia coach Ante Cacic.

“It was one of his best matches in Croatia’s history. He was really playing well. He was really our leader.

“He scored a magical goal and at the end it was the only goal. We need Luka in this form. All the team looks better and more aggressive when he plays like that.”

Croatia, who twice hit the bar through Darijo Srna and Ivan Perisic, play the Czech Republic in their next game on Friday, when Turkey face defending champions Spain.

Turkey coach Fatih Terim said that his team had “dropped physically” in the second half and praised Croatia, saying that “they can go very far” in the tournament.

– Turan apologises –

He also expressed dismay over the underwhelming performances produced by key attacking midfielders Hakan Calhanoglu and Arda Turan, his captain, who was substituted in the 65th minute.

“These are important players. We rely on their performances,” said Terim when asked about the pair.

“But as you said, they couldn’t deliver enough. We will need them. But this happens. We play as a team. Cenk Tosun, Selcuk Inan, Ozan Tufan, they all need to deliver more.”

Barcelona winger Turan issued an apology for his performance after the game.

“I ask for forgiveness from the Turkish people,” he told Turkish television.

“I didn’t play well today, but my team-mates fought a great match.”

While victory represents a sizeable step towards the next round for Croatia, Modric said it would be dangerous to look too far ahead.

“This was only the first step,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur schemer.

“It was a very important step, a big step. As we said before this match, it’s very important to win the first game. We achieved this goal.

“We have two very important matches in front us. The first one is against the Czech Republic, who are tough and unpredictable.

“So we have to go step by step, not get carried away with euphoria and think we’re already through.

“We have to be confident on the basis of our performance today, go on and play even better. But I’m definitely not sure we’ve already passed the group stages.”

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