Euro-2021: Spain defeats Croatia after a crazy match

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At the end of the suspense, Spain overcame the Croatian vice-world champions on Monday in Copenhagen. The meeting, played at a fierce pace, saw the Roja win in the snatch despite the perseverance of a courageous Croatia (5-3 after extra time). The Spaniards will challenge France or Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

Out from the knockout stages of Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Spain finds color in this Euro 2021. Luis Enrique’s men will be at the quarter-finals. But it was hard ! Croatia, reigning vice-world champion, put up admirable resistance in Copenhagen before surrendering after 120 minutes of fighting (5-3 after extra time).

Simon misses himself, Sarabia relieves

The first act of the meeting gave a first indication of the crazy scenario that was to emerge at Parken Stadium. While dominating, Spain yielded the first on a beautiful “dumpling” from Unai Simon. On a back pass from Pedri, the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper completely missed his control and saw the ball slip into the back of the net (20th). A goal against his camp for Pedri but an error to be credited to the doorman, chambered by the Croatian supporters massed behind him.

La Roja, led, kept his calm and maintained his game plan (68% possession of the ball in the first act). And logically, it quickly resurfaced thanks to Pablo Sarabia. The PSG player put his team back to equality by taking back in force a ball that Dominik Livakovic, the Croatian goalkeeper, had just pushed back in the axis (38th).

After the break, the physiognomy of the match did not change and Spain took control thanks to another player stamped Ligue 1. On receipt of an adjusted cross from Ferran Torres, César Azpilicueta, the former mounted Marseillais at the forefront, gave the advantage to his people with a powerful header (57th).

Croatian miracle stops after 90 minutes

When Ferran Torres slipped the ball between Livakovic’s legs to bring the score to 3-1 (77th), nothing much seemed to be able to disturb this Spain launched towards the quarter-finals. Pride, talent or will, or maybe all three of these factors together, however, made Croatia come back to life.

Carried by its captain Luka Modric, the Croatian selection reduced the gap thanks to Mislav Orsic, whose goal was confirmed by the goal line technology (85th). And then, Mario Pasalic snatched the equalizer with a head stung in the heart of a wait-and-see Spanish defense (90 + 2nd). From the bench, coach Zlatko Dalic exulted at the same time as all his miraculous team.

Undoubtedly tired by this return from hell, Croatia did not extend its state of grace in overtime. Unai Simon was solid on a few dangerous actions, and Spain delivered the final blow in three minutes. Forgotten by Josip Brekalo, Alvaro Morata shot Livakovic with a powerful half-volley (100th). Mikel Oyarzabal, who entered shortly before, then closed the discussions by winning his duel with the goalkeeper (103rd).

After a big fight against an admirable Croatia, Spain climbed to the quarter-finals. On July 2, she will face the winner of the round of 16 between France and Switzerland.

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