Spain are through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 after winning a breathless match with Croatia 5-3 after extra time.
It was Spain who started the better of the two, missing two simple chances in the first twenty minutes before Unai Simon then miscontrolled a back pass and watched it trickle into the net to give Croatia a shock lead. Pablo Sarabia later drew Spain level with a high shot into the net five minutes before half time.
It was the Spanish that gradually took over the match and added two more in the second half through Cesar Azpilicueta and Ferran Torres. With five minutes remaining Mislav Orsic scrambled in Croatia’s second, before a sensational late header from Mario Palasic took the match to extra time.
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Andrej Kramaric then missed a gift chance to put Croatia ahead, before substitute Dani Olmo set up Alvaro Morata and then Mikel Oyarzabal for two quick goals in the first period of extra time. Croatia ran out of steam in the final 15 minutes, and Spain hung on to see out a European Championship classic.
Spain will now travel to St Petersburg for a quarter-final on Friday against either France or Switzerland.
TALKING POINT - Can Spain shore up their defence and win the title?
It seems churlish to pick holes in the defending after we were treated to such a classic, but the holes in the Spanish defence were too great not to notice.
After recovering from a farcical own goal that put them behind, Spain then noticeably panicked when Croatia emptied their tank on them in the closing stages, and almost threw away a match they had absolutely dominated. But for a stunning redemptive save from Simon in the opening minutes of extra time, they might well have been reflecting on one of the most chastening defeats in their history tonight.
Unai Simon after his blunder
Image credit: Getty Images
They recovered though, and their undeniable firepower has put them in the last eight. The sense of panic and lack of control in their back four in Copenhagen will not go unnoticed by the remaining teams in the competition though, many of whom have the forwards to punish Spain more ruthlessly.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Ferran Torres (Spain)
So many different players had their moment in Copenhagen, but the classy interventions of Torres were crucial for Spain as they dominated normal time. His pinpoint cross for Azpilicueta and tidy finish for Spain’s third should have been enough; he was subbed out in the 88th minute with Spain leading, and they just about got away with it.
Torres celebrates Spain's third goal
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Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic 6; Juranovic 6, Vida 6, Caleta-Car 5, Gvardiol 5; Brozovic 6, Kovacic 7, Modric 7; Vlasic 6, Petkovic 5, Rebic 6
SUBS: Kramaric 5, Orsic 7, Brekalo 5, Pasalic 7, Budimir 6, Ivanusec 6
Spain (4-3-3): Simon 5; Azpilicueta 6, Garcia 6, Laporte 5, Gaya 7; Koke 6, Busquets 7, Pedri 7; Ferran Torres 8, Morata 7, Sarabia 8
SUBS: Olmo 7, Pau Torres 5, Alba 6, Ruiz 6, Oyarzabal 7, Rodri 6
16’ CHANCE! Busquets finds Pedri free in the inside left channel. From there, Pedri slide rules a ball through to Koke, who bursts into the area undetected. He shoots first time with his right from 12 yards out, but it's too close to Livakovic, who saves with his foot and the ball ricochets behind for a corner off Caleta-Car. Koke should have scored there.
19’ CHANCE! Oh what an opportunity this is. Torres whips in a near perfect cross to the back post where Morata has a free header from six yards out. He heads it down, it clips Vida, and Livakovic gathers.
20’ GOAL! Croatia 1 (Simon o.g. 20) Spain 0 Oh my word, what a howler! Pedri plays the ball back to Simon in the Spanish goal. It's a swift pass, and Simon takes his eye off it completely, it skids off his right foot, and trickles into the bottom left corner of the goal. Croatia are in front and it's an absolute gift!
38’ GOAL! Croatia 1 Spain 1 (Sarabia 38) Spain are level! They work their way into the area on the left, and Croatia's defence is all over the place. The first two shorts are blocked, Livakovic then palms out a rasper from Gaya and it drops to Sarabia, who drills a high shot through Livakovic and into the net for the equaliser!
57’ GOAL! Croatia 1 Spain 2 (Azpilicueta 57) It's been coming! Torres gets in wide open space on the left of the area again. His cross into the six yard box is perfect, and Azpilicueta arrives to thump a header past Livakovic and put Spain ahead.
77’ GOAL! Croatia 1 Spain 3 (Torres 77) That could be that, and it was so simple. Pau Torres takes a quick free kick, diagonal across the pitch to Torres on the corner of the Croat area. Gvardiol and the whole Croatia team were dosing; Torres takes it on the bounce past Gvardiol and calmly slots a low shot into the net.
85’ GOAL! Croatia 2 (Orsic 85) Spain 3 Croatia have scrambled one in to give themselves a chance! Modric escapes to the byline and cuts it in to the six yard box. Croatia need two bites, but Orsic eventually stabs it just far enough over the line from a few yards out to set up a frantic final stanza!
90+2’ GOAL! Croatia 3 (Pasalic 90+2') Spain 3 Oh my days, Croatia are level! They're piling everyone forward, and Orsic whips in a cross from the left wing. It's a vicious inswinger, and Mario Pasalic rises to glance in a header from six yards out!
96’ WHAT A SAVE! Redemption for Simon! The sensational Orsic utterly skins Azpilicueta on the left. He fires low into the six yard box, Kramaric hit first time, and Simon makes a brilliant point blank save to keep it level!
100’ GOAL! Croatia 3 Spain 4 (Morata 100) Spain are back in front! Olmoclips a ball to the back post. It drops over Brekalo and is pulled down perfectly by Morata, who then booms the bouncing ball high past Livakoic into the roof of the net! That will shut a few keyboard hard cases up. It's 4-3!
103’ GOAL! Croatia 3 Spain 5 (Oyarzabal 103) It's five for Spain! Olmo and Morata play a one-two down the right. Olmo fires a gorgeous cross-cum-pass to Oyarzabal, free in the area. He's got enough time to take two touches, before shooting through Livakovic for another goal!
106’ We're off again, and Croatia nearly score from the kick off! Pasalic prods a pass through to Budimir, who's clean through, but drags his shot inches wide from 12 yards out.
120’ OFF THE POST! Everyone has gone here. Spain walk it through the middle of the Croat defence; they eventually work it to Olmo, who curls a shot onto the post and Croatia scramble the rebound away.
- Spain are the first team in the history of the European Championship to score five goals in back-to-back games.
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