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The 26-year-old headed Slaven Bilic's side into an early lead and was of the opinion that it set the tone for the evening that would see them emerge as comfortable victors

Mario Mandzukic believes that his goal inside the opening three minutes against Ireland played a huge part in Croatia's opening Euro 2012 triumph.

The Wolfsburg attacker was in impressive form scoring two headers as the Balkan outfit secured a valuable three points to go top of Group C following Italy and Spain's draw earlier in the day.

"It was very important we scored an early goal," Mandzukic said in the post-match press conference
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"It was not an easy match, it was a hard match. Our coach showed us everything about the Irish team, we did our best and deserved a victory."

"I still can't believe what we just did, it was a fantastic victory. We knew it would be a tough match but we team responded excellently and we achieved a great victory."

"Is this the best match of my life? I must thank the coach first because he gave me a chance to play and then I really played a good match. I scored twice but I also must thank my great team-mates."

Slaven Bilic's side now have a fantastic chance to progress to the quarter-finals and will hope for another positive result when they return to Poznan to play Italy on Thursday June 14.

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