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After 10 years of absence, Ireland gets slapped by a major loss. A 3-1 defeat by Croatia

Ireland fans are expected to mope, as their excitement of attending the first tournament since 2002 and cheering for their own team becomes a nightmare. Their usual reliable defense collapsed in their first Euro 2012 game, as the Croatians mounted their attack to gain a win with a very comfortable league.

Croatia succeeded in bagging the win through goals from Mario Mandzukica and Nikica Jelavic as well as a Shay Given own-goal.

Croatian coach Slaven Bilic was happy with the win, claiming his side always knew they would eventually dominate the game. Speaking after the match, he was only too happy to speak of his pre-match prediction against Ireland turning into reality, and commented on his team's success as due to thorough preparation and effective ball work.

"Yes I was expecting this kind of result. We were prepared and knew everything about the Irish team. We knew we were the better team," he told reporters after the victory.

"Our penetrations were very successful. I congratulate both teams and both supporters, the atmosphere was great and I think the game was great.

"I am completely satisfied with the way we played. We kept possession and were strong in midfield and we played very well and beat a strong team.

"They scored from a set piece but we were a much better team. We were far more creative. Yes they scored but we reacted very well."

Bilic is now preparing for their next match in Group C, which is against the Italians (who just made an upset draw against defending champions Spain), who he believes will present a much tougher challenge than Ireland.

"I was wishing to win this match against Ireland and we are in a better position now," he added. "We are top of the group and we have three points, probably one victory will be enough to go through to the quarter-finals.

"The Italian team plays different from the Irish team. They are not as good as at the last World Cup but I think they like to have possession and build from the goalkeeper. I think they are one of the favorites.”

"Prandelli showed he is a very good tactical coach and I think they are really motivated."

Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic, also delighted of their team’s victory, paid tribute to coach Slaven Bilic, who is known to step down as coach after this tournament.

“Bilic is great, has a lot of energy, speaks a lot with us and I'm sorry he leaves after the Euros,” he concluded.

If he succeeds in leading Croatia to a successful tournament performance, we might see him change his mind, though – or be changed by a higher offer.

What do you think?