The Euro 2020 knockout stage has been fantastic so far, and the first Round of 16 match on Monday didn’t disappoint either. Spain and Croatia gave us an asbolute instant classic in Copenhagen, and La Roja came away with an incredible 5-3 win after 120 minutes of memorable football.
Eric García, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Pedri all featured for Spain, and the two midfielders were crucial in the victory.
Spain’s early dominance in the game’s opening 15 minutes wasn’t rewarded with a goal thanks to a bad miss by Koke after a wonderful pass by Pedri, and La Roja was punished by another pass from Pedri, this time to his own goalkeeper Unai Simón who couldn’t control the ball and redirected it against his own net for a bizarre opener.
Spain weren’t affected by the circumstances of Croatia’s goal and continued to attack relentelessly, looking especially dangerous on the left side. That’s where José Gayà fired a shot on goal that was saved by Livakovic, and then Pablo Sarabia was first to the rebound to make it 1-1 seven minutes before halftime.
Pinball inside the box but Spain get their goal! pic.twitter.com/K73U2kDCbU— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
Luis Enrique’s side continued to dominate at the start of the second half, and it didn’t take long for them to complete the comeback thanks to a great run by Pedri, an excellent cross by Ferran Torres and a firm header by César Azpilicueta.
AZPILICUETA ‼️— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
Spain turn it around on Croatia pic.twitter.com/GzTdtcqqpS
Then it was Ferran Torres’ time to join the scoring party as he was on the receiving end of a spectacular long pass by Pau Torres and calmy beat his defender and the keeper to make it three for Spain.
Croatia never gave up and created chances of their own even as Spain looked like the better team and had a two-goal lead, and their persistence paid off as Mislav Orsic came off the bench to change the game. First he scored a scruffy goal to make it 3-2, and then he played a perfect cross to Mario Pasalic for an injury-time equalizer.
PASALIC TIES IT FOR CROATIA IN THE 93RD MINUTE— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
This game deserved more than 90 minutes, and we got more of the same in extra-time. Both teams went for it in the additional period, with Simón making a sensational save and Dani Olmo having a sure goal blocked by the Croatia defense on the line before they had played 10 minutes in extra-time.
Then, it was time for redemption for the much-maligned Álvaro Morata who fired a rocket into the back of the net in the 100th minute to make it 4-3 for Spain.
Mikel Oyarzabal made it 5-3 just three minutes later to give Spain a two-goal lead, and that really deflated Croatia who couldn’t produce much in the final 15 minutes of extra-time. Spain ran out the clock, and the final whistle sadly came to end one of the greatest European Championship games ever.
Lucho’s Spain are moving on and will take the winner of France vs Switzerland in the quarterfinals. What a game.