Spain got here from behind earlier than ultimately overcoming a dramatic scare to beat Croatia in an eight-goal thriller after additional time on the Parken Stadium on Monday.
Luis Enrique’s aspect had been heading into the subsequent spherical when Croatia bagged two late targets in seven minutes to degree issues up on the finish of regular time, earlier than strikes from Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal settled the competition.
Despite La Roja’s early dominance, it was Croatia who took a shock lead in essentially the most lucky of circumstances as goalkeeper Unai Simon allowed Pedri’s again move to squirm below his foot and in.
Luckily for the Spain No.1 his aspect had been quickly again degree, as Pablo Sarabia smashed dwelling an emphatic shot on the rebound after Jose Gaya’s preliminary effort had been parried out.
Shortly after half-time the preliminary comeback was full, as Ferran Torres centred from the left wing onto the top of Cesar Azpilicueta to divert previous the goalkeeper.
The recreation then appeared to have been put to mattress within the 77th minute as Torres latched onto an extended cross-field ball to skip spherical his marker and slide the ball into the underside nook to extend the benefit.
But the drama wasn’t over there.
Spain then needed to climate a late surge from Croatia after Mislav Ortic managed to get the ball over the road amid a livid goalmouth scramble.
Then simply as you thought Spain would shut out the win, Orsic picked out Mario Pasalic for a late header to attract the match degree and ship the conflict into extra-time.
Croatia got here near taking the lead but it surely was Morata who struck subsequent, controlling Dani Olmo’s cross earlier than lashing it into the highest nook to ship Spain followers into raptures.
Any hopes of one other comeback for Croatia had been dashed when Olmo’s cross picked out Oyarzabal for a fifth moments later, as Spain lastly booked their place within the final eight.
Here are the talking points from Copenhagen.
1. Simple Simon
Oh pricey, oh pricey. Poor Unai Simon.
Spain had been dominating, in management and fully relaxed with their opponents, till bam! Out of nowhere, a mistake worthy of each soccer blooper DVD identified to man – and within the knockouts of a significant competitors!
It was a routine move again from Pedri in midfield, maybe a little bit enthusiastic with a little bit of spin on the ball, however nothing too troublesome.
The truth it was so routine was in all probability the problem for Simon, as he took his eye off the ball for only a second, and that is all that mattered, as it omitted his foot and into the online.
He should have wished the bottom to swallow him up, and can little question nonetheless be rueing his error, although did make amends with a high save from Ante Budimir in additional time.
Where’s the flawless David de Gea whenever you want him?…
2. Koke’s miss
We can speak about Simon’s howler until the cows come dwelling – however let’s not gloss over the very fact Spain ought to have already been in entrance.
Midfielder Koke isn’t essentially identified for his goalscoring prowess, and it confirmed.
Pedri threaded an excellent by ball into his teammate’s path simply 16 minutes through which was simply begging to be slotted away.
Middle of the objective and one on one with ‘keeper Dominik Livaković, a easy end in both nook would have performed the trick.
But Koke’s composure crumbled as he hit his shot straight at Croatia’s no.1.
As probabilities go, they do not come significantly better.
3. Best and worst of Morata
If Koke’s miss was unhealthy, Morata does not get off evenly for spurning his superb alternative.
A pinpoint cross from Torres was precisely the place Spain’s lead striker would have wished it as he rose to move it dwelling.
But Morata bought all of it fallacious, heading it straight on the closest defender somewhat than into the large hole left on the again put up.
It’s been a tough event for Morata, who has bore the brunt of criticism from followers for his wastefulness in entrance of objective.
In this occasion, he might hardly argue, however his total efficiency was significantly better than he’ll maybe get credit score for, providing very good maintain up play and bringing others into the sport.
His disallowed objective for offside summed up his luck in the mean time, however he quickly had the final snort as his splendid take down and half-volley helped ship Spain into the subsequent spherical.
4. Barcelona affect
It’s true that Spain aren’t the much-heralded workforce they was once.
No longer do the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta run the present in midfield.
But that does not imply the Barcelona affect is useless and buried, as Sergio Busquets and Pedri proved with a masterclass in opposition to Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and co.
Busquets was rolling again the years within the centre of the park, pulling the strings as Croatia struggled to get close to him irrespective of how arduous they pressed, choosing passes at will, at all times one step forward.
If the 32-year-old will quickly be consigned to Spain’s previous, teenager Pedri may be very a lot their future.
He was a relentless thorn in Croatia’s aspect all night, buzzing round with attacking intent at each flip, drifting between the traces, driving ahead purposefully and choosing out some elegant passes.
Spain aren’t the workforce of previous, but when they’re to go all the way in which on this event, it’s going to be one other Barca pair who carry them.
5. Torres 2.0
Much just like the traditional Spain workforce of yesteryear, this newest version has a powerful Torres of their ranks.
That this one known as Ferran and never Fernando is merely a minor element.
The Manchester City ahead was excellent in opposition to Croatia, establishing Azpilicueta’s winner with an inch-perfect cross, earlier than getting on the scoresheet with a objective of his personal.
Torres took a few video games to get going within the event, however now appears to be like to be firing on all cylinders, which may solely bode effectively for his nation.
6. Croatian spirit
They appeared out for the depend. Two targets behind with 5 minutes remaining.
But from someplace, Croatia rallied to increase the match by an extra half-hour and push Spain to their restrict.
Orsic was the primary protagonist, poking the ball over the road earlier than whipping in a wonderful supply for Pasalic to degree the scoring.
He nearly bought one other straight after the restart as his shot dipped simply over the crossbar.
It was just for Simon’s left hand that Croatia did not get their noses in entrance once more when Budimir was denied, earlier than Spain struck the killer blows.
Croatia might not be heading by, however you possibly can’t say they did not give it every little thing.