'Jumping' Mandzukic off to flying start

Mario Mandzukic may have got lost in translation when he was quoted as saying that he likes to "jump a lot" but the robust Croatia striker has left no doubt about the threat he poses in the penalty area.

"I like to jump a lot, this is what I do best," Mandzukic told reporters, according to the translation at the news conference following their impressive 3-1 win over Ireland in their Euro 2012 Group C opener.

"We are jumping well, we are very motivated," he added.

With his club future at Vfl Wolfsburg in doubt and his place in the Croatia team also uncertain, Mandzukic was not the most likely of heroes.

But the 26-year-old set Croatia on the way with an unorthodox header and put the game beyond Ireland's reach with another effort that rebounded from the post and went into the net off goalkeeper Shay Given.

Although it was clearly an own goal, it was officially credited to Mandzukic, taking his tally to seven goals in 30 internationals.


Despite scoring in the 3-0 play-off win in Turkey, Mandzukic was not considered an automatic starter for Croatia, where in-form Nikica Jelavic, scorer of the other goal against Ireland on Sunday, leads the attack.

But injury to Ivica Olic boosted his chances and the 2009 Croatian Player of the Year was selected to start ahead of Brazilian-born Eduardo Da Silva against the Irish.

His livewire partnership with Jelavic provided the perfect target for the craft of Luka Modric in midfield.

The former Dinamo Zagreb player has had an up-and-down season in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.

At one point, he fell out of favour with their notoriously hard-to-please coach Felix Magath but won back his place in the second half of the season and finished with 12 league goals.

Despite this, Wolfsburg are unlikely to renew his contract for next season and he is now looking for a new club. Croatia coach Slaven Bilic was as baffled as anyone by that news.

"The year before it was thanks to Mario that Wolfsburg stayed up and last season he was again their best player," he said.