La Roja defeated Croatia with a 5-3 result in their last-16 tie on Monday.
in their Euro 2020 round-of-16 tie on Monday. La Roja made two changes from the side that defeated Scotland 3-1 in their last group stage game. Luis Enrique startedFerran Torres
ahead of Gerard Moreno up front, while he replaced Jordi Alba withJose Gaya
at the left-back position. On the other hand, Croatia’s preparation for the game was rocked by Ivan Perisic’s positive COVID-19 test. Zlatko Dalic replaced Perisic with Ante Rebic on the wing, while Duje Caleta-Car was called to fill in for the suspended Dejan Lovren.
Spain gained possession early on and managed to create their first chance in the 15th minute. Following a precise through ball from Pedri, Koke found himself in a one-on-one situation againstDominik Livakovic
. The Atletico Madrid star fired the ball down the middle but his shot was stopped by Livakovic‘s fantastic save.
Spain seemed to be on their way to find the opener, but they were stunned byUnai Simon
’s unbelievable blunder in the 20th minute. Sergio Busquets sent a long backpass to Simon, which bounced past the goalkeeper’s casual touch and found its way into the back of the net.
Enrique’s side seemed to be in shock after the own goal. However, La Roja regained their confidence and put pressure on Croatia’s defense from both flanks. Livakovic stopped Gaya’s shot from the edge of the box in the 38th minute, but the ball went straight toPablo Sarabia
, who scored the equalizer for Spain by lashing the ball into the top right corner of the net. La Roja kept attacking after the equalizer, but they were not able to get past Croatia’s shaky defense.
The pace of the game reduced significantly at the start of the second half as both sides remained cautious of each other’s counter-attacks. However, Spain took control of the game gradually and managed to double their lead four minutes before the hour mark. Ferran Torres’ deep cross from the left side of the box foundCesar Azpilicueta
, who nodded the ball into the net from close range.
Croatia tried to equalize the game by creating opportunities for Rebic and Nikola Vlasic upfront, but the Checkered Ones lacked enough composure to turn the game around. Spain continued to pass the ball behind Croatia’s backline and got their third goal of the night in the 77th minute. Following a cross-field pass from Pau Torres, Ferran Torres ran behind Josko Gvardiol and fired the ball past Livakovic to make it 3-1.
Dalic’s side went all-in with their attacks in the final ten minutes and managed to score their second goal in the 85th minute. Luka Modric pulled back a pass from the byline near the post which was converted byMislav Orsic
’s strike in front of the goal. The Checkered Ones were convinced they can turn the game around in the final minutes and they managed to do so. Orsic completed his brilliant performance with a long cross from the left side of the box, which was fired past Simon byMario Pasalic
’s precise header. Spain tried to get the match-winner before the final whistle, but they failed to convert their chances and the game went to extra time with a 3-3 draw.
Croatia started the extra time with confidence and got their first chance to score in the 95th minute. Orsic drilled another searching cross inside Spain’s box, but Kramaric’s shot was stopped by a spectacular save from Simon.
Despite their inconsistency at the start of the extra time, Spain managed to take the lead once again in the 100th minute.Dani Olmo
swung a cross from the right side of the box which foundAlvaro Morata
at the perfect spot. The under-fire striker controlled the ball behind Brekalo and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Spain took complete control of the game after Morata’s goal and soon got their fifth goal of the night. Following another great cross from Olmo, the unmarkedMikel Oyarzabal
found himself in a one-one situation in front of Livakovic. The Real Sociedad star drilled the ball to the bottom left corner of the net to double Spain’s lead. Croatia tried to mount a late comeback in the second half of the extra time, but they were not able to score and the game ended in a 5-3 win for Spain.
The winner of tonight’s battle between France and Switzerland will face La Roja in the next round. Spain will play their quarter-final tie on July 2.
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