LAGOS, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- Spain defeated Croatia 5-4 in the shootout to win the Nations League on Sunday after a tense game ended 0-0 after extra time.
Lovro Mayer and Bruno Petkovic had opportunities to score from the penalty spot, but Spain’s Unai Simon stopped both of them.
Then, Carvajal threw in a cheeky goal to give La Roja their first trophy since Euro 2012 and shatter the hearts of the Croatians.
The team of Zlatko Dalic has never claimed a major prize and was expecting that victory in the Nations League would bring an end to captain Luka Modric’s illustrious international career.
In 2018 and 2022, Zlatko Dalic’s team finished third and runners-up at the World Cup, respectively.
Following harsh criticism in March, loss to Scotland in Euro 2024 qualification, the victory gives new Spain coach Luis de la Fuente more confidence by avenging their final loss to France in 2021 was another benefit.
Dalic forewarned that approximately 25,000 Croatian fans were anticipated to travel to Rotterdam, and they populated the majority of the stadium, De Kuip, a sea of red and white checkered squares, with the exception of a small section of Spanish supporters.
The Croatian fans begged Modric not to end his international career after the competition, as had been rumored, as they chanted his name and the number on his shirt in the tenth minute.
Spain made the early advances on the field, with Gavi just missing the target after a frantic press to recover the ball.
Under the pink swirl of smoke from Croatian flares, just as the match was beginning to get up a little steam, Josip Juranovic’s long ball over the top for Andrej Kramaric nearly caught Spain off guard.
Aymeric Laporte made an outstanding lunging block as the striker was running through on Unai Simon’s goal.
Ivan Perisic tried Simon twice with headers while Croatia was in the ascendancy, but the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper handled both of them expertly.
The first half ended scoreless, just like in the previous two Nations League finals, which Portugal and France respectively won in 2019 and 2021, despite 14 goals in the three games that came before.