Euro 2020: Spain complete soaring comeback to knock out Croatia

Alvaro Morata scored his fifth goal at the European Championships, becoming Spain's joint-highest scorer in the competition along with Fernando Torres.

Spain became the first team in European Championship history to score 5 goals in back-to-back games. (Image Credit: Twitter/@EURO2020)

Before their match against Spain, Croatia had failed to win their first knockout games on each of the last three occasions of the Euros. The run now continues. Croatia have been knocked out of Euro 2020 following a 5-3 defeat against Spain, who pulled off a fine comeback. However, Croatia certainly delivered an impressive performance. They recorded an excellent turnaround to push the game into extra time having been 3-1 down at one stage. The game included its fair share of twists and turns. The 2018 World Cup finalists enjoying an early lead, following a freakish own goal. (Euro 2020 results and fixtures)

Pedri at 18 years and 215 days, became the youngest ever player to start a knockout game in a European Championship. He overtook the record of Wayne Rooney (18y 244d v Portugal in 2004). However, he certainly did not enjoy a good start having been handed a fine opportunity. Pedri ended up scoring an own goal in the 20th minute. Goalkeeper Unai Simon failed to control a back pass from the youngster that was played from near the centre circle, bouncing beyond the keeper and in.

Spain’s fantastic comeback after going down 1-0

However, Spain were coming into the game on the back of a 5-0 win. The 2008 and 2012 champions found their feet after scoring one goal in the first two games of Euro 2020. In the 38th minute, Pablo Sarabia helped La Roja draw level on the back of teamwork and persistence. The move started with quick, intricate passing between Koke, Pedri and Sarabia, advancing inside the penalty area from the right. Gaya eventually drilled in an angled shot from the left of the danger zone that was parried by Livakovic, with Sarabia blasting the ball into the net from close range. Both teams went into half-time with the scoreline reading 1-1.

Cesar Azpilicueta delivered the goods when it mattered the most following a well-timed header. Pedri scampered through the centre, threatening to shoot himself as he broke into the penalty area. Croatia’s defenders were sufficiently unsettled, allowing Ferran Torres enough space to move down to the youngster’s left with the latter laying off a low pass. Torres executed an inviting cross onto Azpilicueta, who recorded his maiden goal in international football.

Morata fires to keep Spain in Euro 2020

Spain scored a third after Ferran Torres received a long diagonal pass from Pau Torres. He charged past the defender to fire the ball past the advancing Livakovic. Spain would have been confident of a triumph at this stage. But Croatia pulled off a fine comeback through Mislav Orsic. He took advantage of a poor clearance by Azpilicueta followed by Mario Pasalic’s fine header that left Simon with no chance.

With players from both teams extremely tired, it needed something special to make the difference. Alvaro Morata delivered in the 100th minute controlling a cross from Dani Almo, before rifling his finish into the net. Mikel Oyarzabal further drove home the advantage. He took a couple of touches after another fine cross from Olmo before delivering a clinical blow. Spain maintained the pressure, pulling off a fantastic win which will silence the critics.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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