Spain beat Croatia in eight-goal thriller – Asia Despatch

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Spain reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion by beating Croatia in extra time after an eight-goal thriller.

Luis Enrique’s side were rocked when Croatia substitutes Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic scored twice in the final five minutes to come back from 3-1 down and force extra time, but Spain rallied as the added 30 minutes produced yet more drama.

Striker Alvaro Morata, who has revealed his family have been threatened during the tournament, silenced his critics when he thumped in Spain’s fourth goal in extra time in Copenhagen.

The scoring did not end there as Mikel Oyarzabal added a fifth goal three minutes later to finally see off Croatia, who had fought bravely in this highly entertaining last-16 tie.

In a hint of what was to come, goalkeeper Unai Simon failed to control Pedri’s 49-yard back pass, presenting Croatia with the lead after 20 minutes.

That bizarre own goal sparked a response from Spain though, with Pablo Sarabia thumping in an equaliser, Cesar Azpilicueta heading in another and Ferran Torres making it 3-1.

Spain looked comfortable and poised to cruise through but Croatia burst into action through their substitutes late on to force added time.

The thrilling moments continued as Simon made up for his earlier error with a heroic stop from close range to deny Andrej Kramaric before Morata went up the other end to crucially put Spain ahead again.

It was the most entertaining match of the tournament so far and three-time champions Spain will face the winner of France and Switzerland (kick-off 20:00 BST) in the quarter-finals.

Morata and Simon display Spanish character

Spain became the first side in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive matches – but Morata’s was the most important.

The forward had missed several good chances in the tournament before this game and it looked like it would not be his night again when he failed to nod in Ferran Torres’ cross early on.

Two minutes later, that miss looked especially costly as Croatia took the lead – but it was Morata who the Spain players gathered to congratulate at full-time after their place in the quarter-finals was sealed thanks largely to his goal.

Spain’s credentials to go deep into the tournament have been enhanced by this display of character to initially bounce back from the own goal then re-gather themselves after Croatia had forced extra time.

The scenes at full-time were a mixture of jubilance and relief even if their biggest test may come next, with world champions France their potential quarter-final opponent.

There was nobody more relieved than keeper Simon too – he pulled off a crucial save in extra time after his huge error.

More to follow.

Player of the match

AzpilicuetaCésar Azpilicueta

Line-ups

Croatia

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Livakovic
  • 22JuranovicSubstituted forBrekaloat 74′minutes
  • 21Vida
  • 5Caleta-CarBooked at 83mins
  • 25Gvardiol
  • 10ModricSubstituted forIvanusecat 114′minutes
  • 11BrozovicBooked at 73mins
  • 8KovacicSubstituted forBudimirat 79′minutes
  • 13VlasicSubstituted forPasalicat 79′minutes
  • 20PetkovicSubstituted forKramaricat 45′minutes
  • 17RebicSubstituted forOrsicat 67′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Vrsaljko
  • 7Brekalo
  • 9Kramaric
  • 12L Kalinic
  • 14Budimir
  • 15Pasalic
  • 16Skoric
  • 18Orsic
  • 19Badelj
  • 23Sluga
  • 24Bradaric
  • 26Ivanusec

Spain

Formation 4-3-3

  • 23Simón
  • 2Azpilicueta
  • 12GarcíaSubstituted forTorresat 72′minutes
  • 24Laporte
  • 14GayàSubstituted forAlbaat 78′minutes
  • 8KokeSubstituted forRuizat 78′minutes
  • 5BusquetsSubstituted forRodriat 102′minutes
  • 26González
  • 11TorresSubstituted forOyarzabalat 88′minutes
  • 7Morata
  • 22SarabiaSubstituted forOlmoat 72′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1de Gea
  • 3Llorente
  • 4Torres
  • 6Llorente
  • 9Moreno
  • 10Thiago Alcántara
  • 13Sánchez
  • 16Rodri
  • 17Ruiz
  • 18Alba
  • 19Olmo
  • 21Oyarzabal

Referee:
Cüneyt Çakir

Attendance:
22,771

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