With a skillfully performed Panenka penalty from Dani Carvajal on Sunday, Spain won the Nations League 5-4 in a dramatic shootout over Croatia. After extra time, the tense game concluded with a score of 0-0. Unai Simon, the goalie for Spain, was instrumental in stopping Bruno Petkovic and Lovro Mayer from scoring from the penalty spot. Then Carvajal took a bold stride forward and skillfully chipped the ball into the goal, giving La Roja their first championship since Euro 2012 and breaking Croatian hearts.
Victory for Spain and Loss for Croatia
The squad of Zlatko Dalic has yet to win a significant international title. They finished third in 2022 and were runners-up in the 2018 World Cup. They had anticipated that winning the Nations League would be a perfect way to finish off their captain, Luka Modric, who just made his 166th appearance for his nation. The victory not only gives Spain’s new coach, Luis de la Fuente, more confidence after he received harsh criticism following a loss to Scotland in Euro 2024 qualification back in March, but it also offers some consolation for their defeat to France in the 2021 final.Top 5 football news of the day:17th June 2023
The beauty of De Kuip
Over 25,000 Croatian supporters traveled to Rotterdam as predicted by Dalic, and they occupied the bulk of the stadium, De Kuip, a sea of red and white checkered squares, except a small section of Spanish supporters in the 10th minute, the Croatian supporters banded together to shout Modric’s name together with his shirt number to dispel rumors that he would be retiring from international duty after the tournament.
Spain quickly established dominance on the pitch, with Gavi almost scoring after persistently pressing to reclaim possession. In the swirl of Croatian flares, just as the match appeared to enter a temporary pause, Spain narrowly avoided being defeated by Josip Juranovic’s long ball over the top. For the first 80 minutes of this heated match, La Roja had trouble producing a shot that was on target.
Before being replaced by Petkovic, who had been Croatia’s semifinal hero against the Netherlands and earned the moniker “Bruce Willis in football boots” from a Croatian publication, Mario Pasalic missed a header. On this occasion, he was unable to match that performance. In response, Spain substituted Joselu for Morata and brought in Ansu Fati, who had won their semifinal match. Within 90 minutes, the teenage attacker for Barcelona got the closest to opening the scoring, but the watchful Ivan Perisic cleared his low shot off the line.
Croatia’s requests for a penalty following a collision between Nacho and Borna Sosa were unsuccessful, and as the extra time proceeded with the same frenetic pattern, Spain’s replacement Dani Olmo, who spent six years at Dinamo Zagreb, sent a shot over the crossbar. Because neither team could be separated, a penalty shootout was required to determine the game.
Turning Point of the Game
Aymeric Laporte had the chance to seal the match after Simon denied Mayer, but he hit the crossbar instead. Simon, the custodian for Athletic Bilbao, sprang to his right while fully extended to block Petkovic’s penalty effort, paving the way for Carvajal to start the Spanish celebrations. After France in 2021, Spain became the second country to have won the World Cup, European Championship, and Nations League, solidifying their position in football.
Thank you for reading it. Leave us a comment if you liked it.
Have a good day ahead 🙂