After losing to Spain in the Nations League final on penalties, Croatia was unable to win its first international championship.
After Unai Simon stopped Bruno Petkovic’s shot, Dani Carvajal scored the winning attempt to secure a 5-4 triumph on penalties. Initially, even after extra time, the game in Rotterdam ended scoreless.
After winning the Euro 2012, Spain had waited 11 years for their first international title. Spanish player Rodri, who was chosen as man of the match, recently won the Treble with Manchester City and scored the decisive goal in the Champions League final, stated, “We’re thrilled, it was a really tough game and this is so difficult to achieve.”
Given the roster’s intriguing young players, like Gavi, Ansu Fati, and Yeremy Pino, Rodri believes this might be the beginning of another run of successful Spanish championships.
“This generation has a lot of promise. Mentally, we were incredibly powerful. Some areas may be improved, but winning is always positive,” he remarked.
A sad but unforgettable night for Modric
Croatia was eager to win its first championship after finishing third in Qatar in 2022 and reaching the World Cup final in 2018.
With a sea of Croatian flags and red and white jerseys in the De Kuip stands in Rotterdam, they had solid support. It was also an opportunity for Luka Modric, who was playing in his 166th international match, to cap off a standout career with his first international trophy.
Gavi came dangerously close to making the most out of Spain’s intense pressure on the “Vatreni”, but he dragged his shot wide from a promising position.
With Spain’s high defensive line, Croatia quickly found their footing, and only a superb stop by Laporte kept Andrej Kramaric from scoring after a pass over the top appeared to have set him free.
Croatia kept putting additional pressure on the game as it headed into overtime. However, Spain had the better opportunities, with Marco Asensio nearly missing with a header, Fabian Ruiz almost missing with a chip, and Ansu Fati being stopped on the line by Ivan Perisic in the second half.
As there was no winner after extra time, the match was decided by penalties, which gave Spain victory and Croatia defeat.
It is unclear if this was Modric’s last opportunity to win a trophy for his nation because the 37-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner is expected to make a decision this week over his future in international competition.
If he loses, he could still be allowed to participate in the European Championship in Germany the following summer.