Football: Soccer-Modric pulls the team together: Croatia coach


(Reuters) – Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic heaped praise on Luka Modric after the captain scored a stunning goal in Tuesday’s 3-1 over Scotland that secured their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

After losing to England and drawing with Czech Republic, Croatia were under pressure in their final Group D game but the 2018 World Cup finalists responded through goals from Modric, Nikola Vlasic and Ivan Perisic to finish second.

Modric’s form had been called into question at the Euros but the 35-year-old shaped a sensational finish into the corner of the net with the outside of his boot to make it 2-1 in the second half, sending his side on to a victory.

“No one is sure how Luka manages to keep his level so high,” Dalic said.

“We always expect that Luka is going to decline, he’s going to lose his strength. He’s the one that pulls the entire team along. He doesn’t give up.”

At 35 years and 286 days, Modric became Croatia’s oldest goalscorer at the Euros. He was also their youngest, scoring as a 22-year-old in 2008.

“Whatever I say about Luka and his play it wouldn’t be enough … I’m very proud of him, to be able to coach him and for him to be part of our team,” Dalic added.

Croatia next face the runners-up of Group E in Copenhagen on June 28. Sweden top Group E on four points, with Slovakia second on three, Spain third with two and Poland bottom on one.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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