The team who reached the World Cup semi-finals last year, advanced to the Nations League final with a 4-2 victory over hosts the Netherlands on Wednesday. Andrej Kramaric and Mario Pasalic scored in the second half after Donyell Malen gave the Dutch the lead, but Noa Lang snatched a 96th-minute goal to provide the Dutch with the lead again.
Eight minutes into extra time, Petkovic managed to elude Frenkie de Jong and score from beyond the box to give Croatia a crucial lead. Modric then converted a penalty to seal the victory. For Croatia’s senior citizens, like Real Madrid star Luka Modric, the Nations League is one of their final opportunities to experience international success. “It’s a victory for the Croatian people, we beat the Netherlands in front of their fans, Croatia has one more medal — it’s impossible, unreal, but she deserves it,” Croatia coach Dalic said to his nation’s Nova TV.
Croatia Team News
In their past 16 games, Croatia has only lost once, against World Cup champions Argentina, which prevented the Netherlands from winning their first championship since the 1988 European Championship. In the first Nations League matchup against the hosts Portugal in 2019, Ronald Koeman’s team came in second, while France won in 2021. Dutch network NOS quoted Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk as saying, “We fought like lions, but regrettably it was simply not good enough tonight. It’s depressing. Although we anticipated difficulty, we performed fairly well.” Also Read:Top 5 Major Football News: 9th June 2023
Malen was chosen by Koeman to play on the right of the attack, while Xavi Simons, an intriguing young player making his fourth appearance for the Netherlands, was placed on the left. After 30 minutes, the Oranje sprung into life, scoring the opening goal with Liverpool striker Cody Gakpo. The game got off to a slow start in the afternoon heat, with both teams’ players worn out from a lengthy season with the World Cup sandwiched in the midst. After a well-executed team move, Feyenoord’s Mats Wieffer, who was playing in the club’s stadium De Kuip, feed Malen, who beat Croatia’s World Cup star Dominik Livakovic to finish third in Qatar.
Getting back in the game
Kramaric cut through from the left and missed the far post in the second half as Croatia came out stronger. Soon after, they were tied when Gakpo, who was tugging Modric back to give up a penalty, skillfully robbed him on the outside of the box, giving the 37-year-old Croatian player his 165th cap. To the pleasure of Croatia’s traveling support, Kramaric caressed his spot kick through the center as Justin Bijlow dove to his right.
Before Lang pounced on a stray ball to tie the game, Dutch defender Nathan Ake made a daring attempt to get near. At the previous two World Cups, Croatia defeated Brazil, Japan, England, Russia, and Denmark in games that required extra time. Lang had a chance to tie the game but missed the side netting after Petkovic scored Bijlow at his near post. Petkovic was fouled by Tyrell Malacia in the area, and Modric scored the ensuing penalty to secure the victory. Croatia, who placed third in the 1998 and 2022 World Cups and finished second to France in 2018, is searching for their first trophy.
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