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Modric stunner sees Croatia past Turkey

Croatia’s Luka Modric celebrates after scoring against Turkey during the Euro Cup match at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday.
 PARIS, June 12: Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric scored a brilliant volley as Croatia defeated Turkey 1-0 in their Euro 2016 Group D opener on Sunday.

Ante Cacic’s Croatia dominated throughout, twice hitting the bar in the second half. But it only Modric’s 41st-minute strike – his 11th international goal – that separated the teams at the final whistle.

Victory gave Croatia revenge for their elimination on penalties by Turkey in the quarterfinals at Euro 2008, although they had previously beaten them in a qualifying play-off prior to Euro 2012.

Fatih Terim’s Turkey now have it all to do ahead of their meeting with defending champions Spain in Nice on Friday. Croatia can already go into their game against the Czech Republic with one eye on the last 16.

“We are definitely in the hardest group, with Spain, so it is a perfect start to get three points,” said Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

The talent in both line-ups had raised hopes of an open contest and it took Croatia less than two minutes to threaten. Ivan Rakitic flung himself at Darijo Srna’s cross and hooked a volley across goal.

England held to a draw by Russia: Earlier, fights broke out all day before and soon after Russia managed to earn a 1-1 draw against England on Saturday.

England and Russia fans rioted before the game at Marseille’s nearby Old Port district and briefly outside the Stade Velodrome in a third straight day of violence. Police in the Mediterranean port city fired tear gas and water cannons at rioters.

The clashes continued moments after the final whistle, when a large group of Russian fans in one of the stands behind the goal advanced on England supporters in the neighbouring area, throwing objects and breaking through a line of stewards. England fans fled for the exits in panic.

Vasily Berezutsky scored Russia’s equaliser in the second minute of injury time, cancelling out Eric Dier’s goal from a free kick in the 73rd.

Dier, a defensive midfielder, was a surprising choice to take the free kick for England, but his fierce strike curled into the top corner from the edge of the area.

England failed to finish a flurry of chances in a dominant first-half performance and struggled a bit until Dier stepped up to score the winner in the Group B match.

Wales strikes late to down Slovakia: Hal Robson-Kanu scored a late goal as Wales beat Slovakia 2-1 on Saturday in his team’s first match at a major competition since the 1958 World Cup.

His scuffed shot from 12 metres in the 81st minute came 10 minutes after he had come on as substitute in the Group B match in Bordeaux.

Gareth Bale had given Wales the lead in the 10th minute when he curled in a free kick. Ondrej Duda equalised with his first touch for Slovakia in the 61st, a minute after he came on as a substitute.

Slovakia had enjoyed much of the early possession and almost took the lead as soon as the third minute when Marek Hamsik’s effort was cleared off the line by an excellent sliding interception from defender Ben Davies.

Wales slowly got into its stride and took the lead soon after a foul on midfielder Jonathan Williams. Although the subsequent free kick from Bale, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid two weeks, was fairly central, the movement on the ball was enough to deceive Matus Kozacik.

Wales felt it should have had a chance to double its lead from the penalty spot late in the first half when Martin Skrtel appeared to ram his arm into Jonathan Williams’ face, but referee Svein Oddvar Moen awarded a goal kick instead.

Wales coach Chris Coleman was forced into a late change after goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was ruled out of the match with a back injury. Hennessey, who conceded just four goals in qualifying, was replaced by Liverpool’s Danny Ward. The 22-year-old had made just two appearances for Wales before, both as a halftime substitute during friendlies.

Both teams were making their debuts at the European Championship. – Agencies

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