Bilic praises 'heroic' players

Croatia coach laments Euro 2008 exit on penalties

Slaven Bilic admits he could not fault his players following Croatia's penalty shoot-out defeat to Turkey in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.

Croatia enjoyed the best moments of the showdown in Vienna and appeared to be on course for a semi-final date with Germany when substitute Ivan Klasnic headed home a minute from the end of extra-time.

But, deep into stoppage-time, Turkey snatched an equaliser through Semih Senturk after Croatia failed to deal with Rustu Recber's long ball into the box.

The influential Luka Modric put Croatia's first penalty wide of the target, and a similar fate befell Ivan Rakitic's attempt.

Turkey had converted all three of their penalties when Mladen Petric stepped up and saw his spot-kick parried away by Rustu.


Croatia had been favourites to progress to the semi-finals after impressing in the group phase and coach Bilic praised his players' efforts.

"I want to congratulate both teams for a great game of football," said Bilic.

"This match shows why it's the most dramatic and most popular game in the world.

"My players put in a heroic performance and I can have no complaints about any of them.

"Penalties are a lottery and the players felt confident enough to take the spot-kicks."