Wednesday, October 4, 2023
HomeFootballSpain beat Croatia on Penalties to claim the UEFA Nations League.

Spain beat Croatia on Penalties to claim the UEFA Nations League.

Spain end their 11 year trophy drought as they beat Croatia in the UEFA Nations League final in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Spain end their 11 year trophy drought as they beat Croatia in the UEFA Nations League final in Rotterdam on Sunday. After a goalless draw, Goalkeeper Unai Simon saved two spot kicks and Dani Carvajal converted his penalty through a panenka chip to seal the victory for Spain.

Croatia emerged as runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they also secured third in the 2022 Qatar World Cup and fell short in the penalty shootouts on Sunday against Spain. A nation of just 3.8 million people and a team of extraordinary talent, the greatest generation of Croatian football has turned into one of the most destructible team and have given so much to football yet they remain short of an international trophy.

Both sides started with strong intent and came close in the first-half, Dominik Livakovic fumbled through a Fabian Ruiz shot in the ninth minute, the ball bounced off the post, but Livakovic recovered quickly to block an attempt by Alvaro Morata, who was flagged offside. In the twelfth minute of the game Gavi missed a chance to break the deadlock as he dragged the shot wide. Also read: This was my last World Cup, won’t go to the next World Cup: Messi

Croatia gradually managed to weather down the early storm from Spain, with Modric directing the play from the midfield, the veteran midfielder curled the ball twice to find Ivan Perisic at the far post but Simon denied Croatia from taking the lead both times.

This was Luka Modric’s 166th appearance for the national side, Croatian fans came out in large numbers wearing no 10 and Modric’s name on the back knowing that this could be his last appearance in the Croatian shirt. At 37, it was Modric’s best chance to win an international trophy but Croatia just couldn’t get over the line.

“I’d love Luka to stay,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said. “He’s a very important player for us.”

De La Fuente agreed.

“I hope he carries on because we never want great players to leave the game,” he said.

Josip Juranovic missed a great opportunity to score at the start of the second-half while on the other hand Marco Asensio headed over the bar to keep the score at 0-0. Spain did not managed to register a shot on target until substitute Ansu Fati almost scored in the 84th minute, thanks to Ivan Perisic’s goal-line clearance. Also read:This is the most important day of my life: Jude Bellingham given Zidane’s iconic no 5.

30 extra minutes brought more opportunities but there was no breakthrough, Majer broke through and fell in the penalty area under a challenge by Nacho, but the referee waved off Croatia’s penalty claim. The final was settled on the spotkicks after the game ended in a goalless draw .

Unai Simon saved two shots to emerge as a hero for Spain, Aymeric Laporte had a chance to win it for Spain after Simon used his feet to save a penalty by Lovro Majer when the shootout was level at 3-3, but the Manchester City defender hammered the ball against the post.

Simon then denied Bruno Petkovic’s shot to go in and handed a second chance for Spain to claim the European silverware. Dani Carvajal calmly converted his penalty through a panenka chip to win it 5-4 on penalties.

Spain lost to France in the Nations League two years ago and after a disappointing World Cup in Qatar, where they were upset by Morocco in the last-16, Spain’s Nations League victory could get the country back on a winning streak, head coach Luis de la Fuente said after securing the country’s first international trophy in over a decade through a hard-fought win on penalties against Croatia.

“These players are used to winning,” De la Fuente told reporters early on Monday.

“They have won so much coming through the ranks and this can continue, I think this competitive streak is back and we can look forward to winning more.”

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Dhirty Raj Narah
Dhirty Raj Narah
A Real Madrid fan who uses football as a metaphor for life

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