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Modric brilliance puts Croatia past Turkey

The Croats put an unpleasant memory from the past to bed, defeating the Turks 1-0. The man of the match was Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric in a game that wasn't as close as the scoreline suggests.

There was no shortage of back story as Turkey and Croatia got group D underway in Paris in Sunday's early game. The Turks had never defeated Croatia in open play, but they did knock their rivals out of the Euro 2008 quarterfinals on penalties after leveling the scores in the dying minutes.

Croatia got off to the brighter start, hogging more than 70 percent of the ball in the early minutes. But it was Fenerbahce striker Ozan Tufan with the best chance on the half hour mark, when he split the Croats' central defense and headed the ball at point-blank range. Keeper Danijel Subasic was just able to keep the ball out.

That served as a wake up call, and Croatia upped the pressure as a collective. The goal that broke the ice, however, was the result of some individual inspiration, with Real's Luka Modric volleying the ball home from outside the penalty area in minute 42.

Croatia continued to boss the game after the restart. Veteran Dario Srna was centimeters away from doubling the Croats' lead when he banged a free kick off the crossbar in minute 52. Srna also squandered an open look at goal inside the box a few minutes later.

UEFA EURO 2016 Türkei vs Kroatien

Turkey were unable to muster much offense and were lucky only to concede one goal

Turkish coach Fatih Terim substituted offensively, sacrificing Barcelona's Arda Turan in the process. Dortmund fans also got a look at their new singing Emre Mor, but it was Croatia coming closer to another goal. Former Dortmund forward Ivan Perisic hit the crossbar again with a header in minute 72.

Croatia had generated enough chances (17 shots on goal in the first 80 minutes) to salt away the match. The question was: could Turkey pull off a last-minute equalizer a la 2008?

The answer: no. Turkey were toothless, allowing Croatia to book a 1-nil win that dispelled some ghosts from the past.

"There's no reason for exaggerated celebrations - even if it is in the Croatian mentality," Croatia's Swiss-born Ivan Rakitic said after the clash. "But we'll enjoy the moment tonight."

Croatia take on the Czech Republic on Friday in Saint-Étienne, while Turkey go up against favorites Spain in Nice.

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