Croatia Beat Portugal In Euro 2024 Warm-up Friendly

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Croatia finished their Euro 2024 preparations with an impressive 2-1 friendly win over Portugal on Saturday.

Zlatko Dalic’s side beat the Euro 2016 winners in the Lisbon suburb of Oeiras to send Group B rivals Spain and Italy a warning.

Roberto Martinez’s Portugal, among the contenders to win the tournament, fell to only their second defeat in 13 matches under the Spaniard.

Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was left on the bench by Martinez, whose side spurned chances to equalise in the second half.

“Today’s game had a negative result… we want to win, it’s the best way to grow, but today there are also positives to take,” said Martinez.

Portugal won all of their qualifying games but have lost in friendlies against Slovenia in March, and now Croatia.

“Winning against Croatia doesn’t make us good enough to win the tournament, losing doesn’t mean we will not qualify for the last 16,” continued Martinez.

“A friendly game is about preparation. Now we are stronger than before the game… this is international football.

“We lost, Croatia deserved it, but for us it was a test we needed.”

Croatia had the better of the opening period against the subdued hosts and veteran Luka Modric netted his 25th international goal from the penalty spot after Vitinha felled Mateo Kovacic.

Real Madrid midfielder Modric, 38, is hoping to finish on a high in what is likely to be the last major international tournament of his career.

Manchester City defender, Josko Gvardiol twice came close, while Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa denied Andrej Kramaric and Ante Budimir headed off target.

Substitute Diogo Jota, on at the break, pulled Portugal level early in the second half but Budimir soon restored Croatia’s advantage with a header after Mario Pasalic hit the crossbar.

Portugal upped their game with Rafael Leao and Joao Cancelo creating danger in search of a leveller but the visitors held on for a second friendly victory after beating North Macedonia.

“It’s a great victory, it will give us confidence for the Euros,” Modric told Nova TV.

“Expectations are high, we have a very good team, a great atmosphere, desire, and enthusiasm.

“I hope we will play like this… only with this kind of game can we expect something big.”

Croatia start the tournament by facing three-time winners Spain in Berlin in a week’s time.

Martinez’s side have one final tune-up friendly, against Ireland on Tuesday in Aveiro.

Portugal are favourites to progress from Group F which also contains the Czech Republic, Turkey and Georgia.

Euro 2024 begins on June 14 in Germany.