Spain dramatically reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals by beating Croatia in extra time after a game of eight goals thriller.
Luis Enrique’s side shuddered as Croatia substitutes Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic scored twice in the final five minutes, coming back from 3-1 down and forcing extra time. Still, Spain rallied as the extra 30 minutes created extra drama.
Striker Alvaro Morata, who revealed before the game that his family had been threatened during the tournament because of his performances. Silenced his critics as he scored Spain’s fourth goal in extra time in Copenhagen.
The scoring of goals did not end there as Mikel Oyarzabal added a fifth goal three minutes later to face Croatia. Who had been fighting hard in the last 16 games.
In hindsight, for 20 minutes into the game goalkeeper, Unai Simon failed to control Pedri’s 49 yard back pass, bringing Croatia with the lead.
That strange goal sparked a response from Spain. With Pablo Sarabia scoring the equalizer, Cesar Azpilicueta scoring another, and Ferran Torres making it 3-1.
Spain looked relaxed and comfortable, but Croatia started working with their substitute players who played late to force extra time.
The thrilling moments continued as Simon corrected his previous mistake with a heroic style of denying Andrej Kramaric before Morata moved to the other side to put Spain ahead.
It has been the most exciting match in the tournament so far. And three-time champions Spain will face Switzerland after beating France in another good game in the quarter-finals.
Morata and Simon portray a Spanish character.
Spain became the first team in European Championship history to score five or more goals in a row. But Morata’s was the most important.
The striker missed many good chances in the tournament ahead of the game. And it looks like it would never be his night again. When he failed to nod in Ferran Torres’s cross early.
After two minutes, that loss seemed to cost more as Croatia took the lead. But it was Morata, the Spanish players, who gathered to celebrate after their place in the quarter-finals fully was closed due to his goal.
This display of the character has enhanced the Spain’s credentials of deep penetration into the tournament to get back to his goal and regroup after Croatia forced extra time.
Full-time scenes have been a mix of excitement and relaxation. And they will now prepare for the quarter-final match against Switzerland. Which knocked out world champions France during a penalty shootout in Bucharest.
There was no one more relieved than goalkeeper Simon as well. He pulled out significant savings over time after his big mistake.
Croatia bowed out but not without a fight.
The World Cup finalists Croatia lost the game at the last-16 stage for the second Euros in a row. After they were beaten by eventual winners Portugal in 2016, but they did not go without fighting.
Spain was not discouraged during the game, but Croatia created many clear chances. And if they were more clinics, it would have been a different story.
Nikola Vlasic smashed another into the net, and Kramaric was sent offside when he swung back before Spain won 3-1.
But as Spain looked relaxed, Croatia stepped up, unwilling to leave the competition without making an impact.
The substitutes forced extra time, and Croatia could have continued when Orsic fired a dangerous shot in the bar minutes before Simon denied Kramaric.
That loss was costly, and Spain almost got a thumbs up when Dani Olmo’s curler hit the post on the left in the dying moments.
Croatia was naturally frustrated at full time after failing to make a comeback. But left their mark in the tournament by playing their part in a spectacular game.