Spain are through to the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-finals after a madcap extra-time win against Croatia.
Spain are through to their first major tournament quarter-final since 2012 after shrugging off a dramatic late Croatia comeback to prevail 5-3 after extra time – the second-highest-scoring game in EURO history.
Match in brief
Croatia took the lead against the run of play and in unusual fashion when keeper Unai Simón misjudged Pedri’s long-distance back pass. Luis Enrique’s side were level before half-time, though, Pablo Sarabia firing in the rebound after Dominik Livaković had parried José Gayà’s effort.
When César Azpilicueta headed in his first international goal and Ferran Torres finished low past Livaković to double Spain’s lead with just 13 minutes left, the game looked to be up. But that was barely the start to this round of 16 epic.
Substitute Mislav Oršić scrambled one back for Croatia but it was not until added time that the turnaround was complete. Another replacement, Mario Pašalić met Oršić’s pinpoint cross from the left with an emphatic header. Cue mayhem.
It would have been 4-3 Croatia just six minutes into extra time had Unai Simón not somehow kept out Andrej Kramarić’s effort – a moment of redemption that proved a turning point.
Álvaro Morata was next to turn his fortunes round when, with 100 minutes on the clock, he controlled Dani Olmo’s cross and rifled into the net. From another Olmo centre, his fellow subtitute Mikel Oyarzabal restored the two-goal Spanish cushion which had felt a lifetime ago.
Star of the Match: Sergio Busquets (Spain)
“Very good, controlling player – in defence and in attack. Very calm and cool.”
Peter Rudbaek, UEFA Technical Observer
Elvir Islamović, Croatia reporter
What an incredible night. Croatia were so close to elimination; when everyone else had given up, the players hadn’t. What a sensational comeback. Croatia even had great chances to lead again, but they couldn’t complete the turnaround. They battled until the final second and gave everything they had.
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter
Please can we watch these two sides every week? This has been easily Spain’s most dramatic, exciting and frustrating match in the 21 years since they beat Yugoslavia 4-3 at UEFA EURO 2000. How to pick the heroes? Luis Enrique for a flood of good choices? Dani Olmo for his cameo which wins the game? For me, it’s Pedri – his heart must have been in his boots after the own goal but he again looked like footballing royalty across the rest of the 120 minutes. What a game. Viva España, viva Los EUROs.
Sergio Busquets, Spain captain: “To get to the quarter-finals is an indication that we’re a good team. We were very good today, very intense, well prepared and we beat a very, very difficult rival. We are growing throughout the tournament.”
César Azpilicueta, Spain defender: “Boy, we had to suffer there. It’s been a few tournaments since we got through a knockout match. But today we ‘broke the ice’ against the World Cup runners-up.”
Mislav Oršić, Croatia winger: “First, I would like to thank the fans – it was a pleasure to play in front of them. We fought until the very end, but they scored from almost every chance and deservedly won.”
Luka Modrić, Croatia captain: “At the start of extra time we had them on the ropes but we failed to score from two good chances. Then the game turned around and we didn’t have the strength to come back.”