Full-time - 90'
1 - 3
18:45 +00:00, June 10, 2012
Poznan Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland
As for Ireland, that defensive solidity they displayed in abundance during qualifying deserted them as they conceded three soft goals. Nothing really clicked at either end of the pitch and they have much work to do before they face the world champions on Thursday.
Croatia weren't really tested at the back but looked lively up front; Mandzukic and Jelavic appears a good combo. And Modric was immaculate as ever. A great start for them.
KICK OFF - Andrews fires a shot wide as the real final whistle goes and Ireland's fans sing 'Athenry' in unison. Not the match they had waited a decade for but Croatia were worthy winners and will pose problems for the other two in this group, no doubt.
The joker in the crowd pipes up with two pretend full time whistles. I hope someone catches him and detains him for the rest of the tournament.
A scramble in the box as three looping balls aren't cleared. Eventually Cox can't fashion a shot and Croatia clear.
Now Rakitic departs, Tomislav Dujmovic trots on eagerly.
A free header for Andrews as a host of players hit the turf, his header is guided to the far post and with Pletikosa beaten it flashes a foot wide. So close.
There are five minutes of stoppage time though. If Ireland can just get one ... and they win a corner right on cue.
Just a couple of victories needed against Italy and Spain then. Not too hard is it?
A change for Croatia, Perisic leaves the field and Eduardo comes on.
Pletikosa went down after those two crosses claiming an arm in the face. Wasting a bit of time more like.
Two great crosses into the box, first Cox's ball is punched clear by Pletikosa, then Duff's dink is headed over by Andrews.
A little bit of argy bargy as frustrations grow. First Long and Schildenfeld shove each other then Cox kicks out at Mandzukic, who limps off for treatment.
Kranjcar swipes at Walters as he looked to initiate a break. A cynical foul.
Two-goal hero Mario Mandzukic is currently a free agent after leaving VfL Wolfsburg this summer. Might be a few offers for the 26-year-old after this performance.
That is woeful from Cox who just thumps a low ball into Pletikosa's arms from about 40 yards. He looks knackered and he's only been on 15 minutes.
Andrews again has a go on goal after good work from Long to tee him up but he's dragged across it and Pletikosa can watch it trickle wide.
Better from Ireland as Duff crosses and Andrews heads towards the near post but Pletikosa saves well.
Intriguing to think how Croatia will get on against Italy and Spain in their next two games. Could be two cracking clashes.
Now Cox hassles Corluka but used a trip to send him to the turf.
Ireland are all over the place now as Srna pulls a lovely ball back for Rakitic, who fires a shot across goal and narrowly past Given's far post. Would have been a stonker.
Ireland seem to have reverted to the long ball up to Walters. Croatia looking comfortable. As is Slaven Bilic in his beanie hat.
No McClean and Ireland's skipper, and best striker, removed. Questionable.
Robbie Keane heads off and Shane Long replaces him. Hmmm.
O'Shea's poor pass ends a promising Ireland move. Croatia hoof down field.
Jelavic trots off to be replaced by Niko Kranjcar. Presumably Mandzukic up top alone.
Any chance of James McClean getting a run out Trapa?
Good ball down the line from O'Shea, Duff immediately checks onto his left and crosses but Pletikosa is growing into his role and comes out to claim.
Dunne won the header but it lacked the pace to trouble Pletikosa. Duff didn't really deliver with enough pace.
More direct from Duff as wins a foul off Perisic and another chance for Ireland to get the big lads forward.
Modric is top quality, he really is. Makes so much time for himself on the ball.
Walters has been bright since he came on - a proper 110% merchant.
The Croatians queue up to have a pop at the ref too after he let play go on when Mandzukic was lying injured up the other end of the field.
Keane is upended by Schildenfeld in the penalty area as he kicks through the striker. The ref waves it away and the Irish are livid. Again.
Duff has come more central to try and get involved, Cox hanging out left. O'Shea hangs up a cross from the right and Pletikosa can grab this one with ease.
Croatia are content to sit a bit deeper now and soak up pressure. Quite right too.
Feel sorry for Given - such a loyal servant to his country but out of position for the opener then a hostage to misfortune for the third.
Duff's delivery is deep and sees Pletikosa scrambling again but Dunne is penalised - not entirely sure what he is supposed to have done.
It's a shame Trap didn't fancy giving McClean a go. Walters and Cox more functional, less flamboyant.
And the two combine right away as Walters flicks on and Cox fires a volley over the bar.
Right, changes. Walters and Cox, two strikers, replace McGeady and Doyle.
Modric gets a yellow for a late tackle on Andrews. Dunne's ball gave him a sniff of getting it.
A double change approaching for Ireland.
Croatia have been slick, apart from that ten minutes first-half spell when Ireland equalised. Their fans are making the noise now.
Ireland have to score the next goal, preferably in the next ten minutes. With Italy and Spain to come, this game has to be won.
That could be the end of Ireland. A superb header from Mandzukic but Given is so unlucky - the ball was bouncing away from goal when it hit the top of his head and flew in. Now Croatia win a corner.
GOAL Mandzukic grabs another! He gets his nod on a left wing cross, the ball hits the post, cannons off Given and back into the net.
Perisic is hurt and angry after Whelan's knee drove into his side as they challenged for a header.
Robbie Keane was still chuntering at the referee about Ireland's goal as the teams came back out. There's a debate about whether a new phase of play had started just as Ward shanked it into Jelavic's path. If so, then maybe he wasn't off.
We begin again...
Mandzukic celebrates his opener
And while you are at it, why not delve into the formation side of things with Richard Jolly's tactics board. It's full of chat about the false '9' and sweepers.
Earlier on Italy and Spain drew 1-1 in a game that was beautiful to watch and utterly absorbing. Here is our match report.
A frantic 45 at times but great to watch. A very tidy finish from Jelavic for the second but he was a yard offside and Ireland will have that familiar feeling that they have been hard done by.
HALF TIME - Perisic scurries onto Jelavic's pass and stands up an inviting ball that Rakitic nods over the bar. And that is that. An engaging half, in which Croatia have been better, but Ireland have handed them two goals.
Andrews now gets a yellow for a late tackle on Mandzukic. Deserved booking.
Ireland are livid, and well they might be. When the initial shot came in Jelavic was a yard offside, then it was shanked into his path by Ward, who has had a nightmare two minutes, and Jelavic flicked past Given. More injustice for Ireland.
GOAL Jelavic prods home! That looked suspiciously offside but the goal is given, a shot is diverted into his path by Ward. Jelavic was indeed a yard off when the initial shot came in.
Ward's mistake offers Mandzukic the ball and a nervous 30 seconds elapses before Ward blocks a Srna cross behind for a corner.
McGeady has been quiet. Not had the service he needs to thrive.
Cute from Corluka as he ambles into the path of Andrews, who was hunting down a Keane flick. Pletikosa races out to claim.
Strinic is allowed all the time in the world to cross but Jelavic can't crane his neck to get the ball on target. Trap not happy the full back wasn't apprehended before his ball in.
Croatia are back on top here and looking dangerous. Ireland need to get closer to Modric, and Srna, who has good quality in his right boot.
Ward stands up a ball for Doyle but he can't win it cleanly as the chunky figure of Schildenfeld rose to meet it as well.
Now Perisic fires a rapid volley at goal from 20 yards but it narrowly arches wide of goal. Given relieved.
So nearly a break for Keane as Vukojevic offers up possession but Keane's touch is too heavy to allow him to catch it before Pletikosa is out.
Srna pulls the ball back for Modric and his powerful effort is saved by Given. It was right at him but swerving a little.
Andrews snaps at Modric's heels after giving the ball away.
Two poor crosses from Jelavic and two headers away by Ward, each one greeted with a loud cheer from Ireland's fans.
A lengthy spell of possession for Croatia. Ireland retreating deep quite quickly.
McGeady's delivery is too deep but Pletikosa lurched into no man's land as it came over. Promising sign for the greens.
Corluka fouls Doyle again, who went down easily, and the ref tells him a card will be produced next time he commits a foul.
This idiot in the crowd with a whistle seems to have stopped blowing it for now. Quite a few thought Ireland's goal had been chalked off as it went off just as the ball hit the net. What an eejit.
Modric is allowed the freedom of that pitch as he strides into the penalty area. Mandzukic tries to return the ball when it comes to him and Andrews slides in to turn it back to Given who hoofs clear.
A full blooded 50-50 between Corluka and Whelan. A thunderous tackle and Ireland get a free kick, which is hilarious, as Corluka won the ball and got a shinful of Whelan's studs.
O'Shea forces Mandzukic into an error and Whelan slides in Robbie Keane but the LA Galaxy man was flagged offside.
A good game in a great atmosphere. I blooming love football.
Srna's fierce shot flashes across Given's goal. All it needed was a touch. Then Perisic fires a powerful low shot on goal and Given redeems himself with a smart save.
Srna looks for Jelavic inside the area but Dunne stuck to the Everton striker. Good defending.
St. Ledger got the right side of Corluka, who gave away the free kick, and finished superbly. Irish fans do the 'Poznan'. Well, when in Poznan.
GOAL St Ledger equalises! A brilliant delivery from McGeady and a cute diving header from the defender! A green explosion!
Doyle now wins a free kick off Corluka wide left. The striker has done well to buy that one, though there was definite contact. A chance to load the box.
Dunne fouls Jelavic and Rakitic's delivery is superb. O'Shea nicks it behind. A whistle in the crowd is confusing the players.
Slightly risky possession from Ireland at the back - Dunne and Given looking for Andrews and Whelan.
The Irish fans launch into a hearty rendition of "The Fields of Athenry." Great little number.
Mandzukic feeds Perisic but his cross is poor and sails out for a goal kick to Ireland.
Better from Ireland though - they've already shown they can get good quality into the box. They must keep Croatia quiet for the next ten minutes or so.
Andrews' effort cannons into the wall, then his follow up is a touch wild and shanks of his boot for a goal kick.
Doyle wins a free kick right on the edge of the area as Schildenfeld gives him a nudge. A soft award but a great chance for Ireland.
Neat touch from Dunne as he evades Jelavic and hands the ball back to Given.
The rain is still lashing down in Poznan - the pitch is soaking.
Croatia's opener is the first Euro finals goal inside the opening three mins since Michael Owen's vs Portugal in Euro 2004.
Duff cuts in on his left but drags a shot wide of the post. A poor effort in truth.
It was a hopeful nod from Mandzukic, who had stumbled when the cross came over. I don't think he had any idea where it was going but Given was out of position.
Now Dunne is forced into an ungainly challenge to ensure Jelavic doesn't get in on goal. A very shaky start for Ireland.
Trapattoni will be livid at that - such a soft goal to concede. Their qualifying success was built on clean sheets, they had one for just two minutes in Poznan.
GOAL Mandzukic scores! A nightmare for Ireland as they fail to clear a corner properly, Mandzukic nods a cross to the near post and Given can't get there in time.
Good first involvement from McGeady, creating space for Ward to cross but Doyle can't direct a header on target.
The most soulful, enthusiastic rendition of an anthem at a major tournament for a long time. The ground is full of Irish fans and boy are they up for this. Let the game (s) begin.
Let us not forget though that Ireland are unbeaten in 14 matches leading into this tournament. They have huge backing in Poznan, and a huge ovation greets the teams. Trapattoni has them well drilled and disciplined. He loves a 1-0 win does old Trap.
As for Croatia, they are favourites but know full well a defeat tonight strikes a huge blow on their campaign. Luka Modric is their main man - he has to spark in the group stages if they are to progress, and put a move to Chelsea out of his mind for the next week.
This is their first involvement in a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup, and they couldn't really have picked a tougher group. If they are to stand any chance of making the last eight, they must surely win tonight.
I may be biased (with a surname like Murphy that is understandable) but I reckon every major tournament needs Ireland and the glorious splash of green they provide. They always attract a brilliant following and play with guts, heart and a fierce sense of pride.
Croatia are playing a 4-1-3-2 formation with Everton hotshot Nikica Jelavic and Mandzukic up front. Modric will operate just behind them with Perisic and Rakitic wide. Corluka is at centre back alongside Schildenfeld.
The team news is in and Ireland line up as expected, in a 4-4-2 formation with Keane and Doyle up top. John O'Shea starts at right back with St Ledger and Dunne in the middle. McGeady and Duff on the flanks and Whelan and Andrews in the middle.
John Brewin is reporting on the game for ESPN and will also be delivering updates from the stadium throughout. He soaked up the atmosphere in Poznan yesterday, while our resident Ireland expert Kevin Palmer has been discussing how important a return to a major finals is for the boys in green.
Giovanni Trapattoni will be hoping Ireland captain Robbie Keane can add to his 53 international goals.
Join Chris Murphy from 1945 BST for live text commentary of Ireland's first European Championship game in 24 years, against Croatia in Poznan.
Sean St. Ledger