Luka Modric lurked on the edge of the zone, waiting for the ball to come to him before stroking it perfectly in the upper corner with the outside of his shoe. At 35, this could be Croatia’s captain’s last European Championship and he still does not want to return home.
Modric’s magnificent goal in the 62nd minute helped Croatia beat Scotland 3-1 on Tuesday and give the team a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, finishing second in Group D. Croatia will face second in the Group E on Monday in Copenhagen.
“This goal means a lot to me, but our game means more, from start to finish,” Modric said. “I’m happy that the goal helped me, but the most important thing is for the team to win.”
Modric, who also assisted on Croatia’s third goal, had a quiet first leg in the group, with the midfielder forced into deeper positions and Croatia criticized the lack of a spark in attack. But the playmaker also showed class and why he won the Ballon d’Or in 2018 – the same year he helped his team reach the World Cup final.
He fell to his knees at the last whistle for about a minute before getting to his feet and pumping his fists in celebration. He then passed with a wide smile on his face to embrace Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic.
“No one is sure how Luka is doing,” Dalic said. “We all expect Luke’s levels to drop and he to lose his strength. But he doesn’t give up. I’m very proud to have such a player and I have him as part of this team.”
Modric is now the youngest and oldest player to score a goal for Croatia in the European Championship. He scored 273 days against Austria in 2008 when he was 22. On Tuesday, he was 35, 286 days old.
Croatia’s other two goals came from winger Nikola Vlasic’s low shot in the 17th minute and Ivan Perisic’s header in the 77th from a corner by Modric.
“When we play like that, we are dangerous to everyone.”
Vlasic took two touches to his door and shot low past Scottish goalkeeper David Marshall. It was Croatia’s first real attack in the match since Scotland dominated the early stages. It was bad to defend against winged defender Stephen O’Donnell, who let Perisic jump over him without a hitch. Scotland retreated from time to time after the goal, urging Croatia to move forward in dangerous positions.
“I’m sorry we’re not done,” said Scottish midfielder John McGinn. “Extremely proud of the efforts, but we came across an excellent team and their experience showed.
Callum McGregor equalized for Scotland just before half-time, breaking the ball just outside the penalty area in the left corner. Scotland’s first goal of the tournament – and the first in a major men’s competition since the 1998 World Cup – electrified the atmosphere at Hampden Park as Tartan’s army jumped and hugged the stands.
“The fans were amazing,” McGregor said. “They (Croatia) just had too much quality in the end. This is a difficult lesson. “Scotland came out of the tournament in last place in the group with only one point.
“They knew they had to play a third game of the tournament,” said Scotland coach Steve Clark. “They knew better than we did. From many things to learning, including the coach. “