Ante Cacic: Croatia 'punished' after making their only mistake vs. Portugal
Croatia coach Ante Cacic admitted Portugal "punished" his side for their sole mistake in 120 minutes as Ricardo Quaresma's extra-time winner dumped them out of Euro 2016 in the round of 16.
Cacic's men took 17 shots but could not put a single one on target, and Portugal's goal came against the run of play immediately after Croatia had nearly taken the lead in their best spell of the game.
The manager said he thought Croatia outplayed Portugal for most of the game, and he was pleased with his players' performances despite the score.
"Everything was perfect apart form the fact we didn't score. We weren't successful in attack," he said. "We expected Portugal to counter and we were playing really well for 120 minutes, controlling the match, not conceding any chances except the last one that was our mistake and we were punished for that.
"That's football. Many times the better side doesn't win and that's the case tonight.
"We played really well but didn't score. We played more aggressively and tried to score more. They were disciplined at the back, didn't give chances and scored late on.
"We were trying to push and be aggressive but their defence was good. They kept us far from goal and scored from the counter when we were trying to score in the very last minutes."
Croatia's road in France came to an end, while Portugal advance to the quarterfinals. Should Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. get past Poland, only one of Wales, Belgium or Hungary stand between them and the final.
Cacic said Portugal must now be considered the most likely team to take home the trophy.
"Of course I'm sad. We had a great chance and a good draw. We knew if we beat Portugal we'd play Poland, but that's tournaments. We always have to play against strong teams," Cacic said. "I can only congratulate my players. What happened was we didn't score; this is football.
"Portugal are a high-quality side with experienced players. If there's a favourite to win the tournament this is Portugal now.
"Portugal scored a goal and we didn't. That's it. We have to look in the future and start to think about the FIFA World Cup in Russia and prepare this team."