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National Teams

Tin Jedvaj with a brace

Late drama as
Croatia overcomes

Late drama as Croatia overcomes Spain
photo by: HNS
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Croatia national football team achieved its objective and defeated Spain to remain in UEFA Nations League Final Four contention, with Tin Jedvaj scoring an added-time winner in front of the full crowd in Zagreb.

CROATIA - SPAIN 0:0 (0:0)
UEFA Nations League, League A, Group 4.
Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb.

Referee: A. Kulbakov (Belarus)

Goals: 1:0 - Kramarić (54'), 1:1 - Ceballos (56'), 2:1 - Jedvaj (69'), 2:2 - Ramos (78' - 11m), 3:2 - Jedvaj (90+3')

Cautions: Rebić (70'), Perišić (88'), Busquets (88'), Ceballos (90+1')

Croatia: Kalinić, Jedvaj, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozović, Rakitić (68' Vlašić), Perišić, Modrić, Rebić (73' Brekalo), Kramarić (89' Pjaca). Head coach: Z. Dalić.

Spain: De Gea, Alba, Martinez, Ramos, S. Roberto, Ceballos, Busquets, Niguez (74' Suso), Isco, Rodrigo (60' Asensio), Aspas (63' Morata). Head coach: L. Enrique.

photo by: HNS

In its third UEFA Nations League appearance, Croatia has finally broken the deadlock, scoring three against Spain and recording a victory that means the Wembley encounter with England will decide the top spot.

Spain visited Zagreb with pleasant memories of a 6:0 win in Elche, but Croatia came out running and failed to convert two major opportunities in the opening minutes (Perišić, Kramarić). The visitors then managed to balance the game - even took initiative - yet it was only Isco's effort before the break to trouble Kalinić.


As an introduction, retired silver-winning internationals Mario Mandžukić, Danijel Subašić, and Vedran Ćorluka received gifts, as well as standing ovations of the 33,018 spectators.

photo by: HNS

The protagonists made amends in the second half. On 54 minutes, Spanish defence made a mistake, Perišić headed the ball forward to Kramarić, and Croatia striker cool-headedly beat De Gea (1:0).

However, the lead lasted only two minutes as Isco found Ceballos in the box (1:1), and Croatia did not wait long to retake the lead.

photo by: HNS

On 69 minutes, Modrić's cross found Jedvaj at the far post and Croatia defender headed it in (2:1), yet the hosts could not celebrate for long. On 78 minutes, Vrsaljko handled the ball in the box, and Ramos easily converted the penalty (2:2).

In the meantime - to illustrate the excitement - Aspas hit the woodwork, Rebić was going one-on-one with De Gea, Vrsaljko cleared off the line, and Croatia introduced two youngsters, Vlašić and Brekalo. The climax was, unsurprisingly, still to come.

photo by: HNS

As both teams were looking for a game-winning goal, Brekalo found some space to take a shot, De Gea parried, and Jedvaj was first on the rebound to secure a memorable Croatia victory (3:2). Zlatko Dalić's men can now travel to London to decide their UEFA Nations League destiny.

UEFA Nations League, League A, Group 4:
1. Spain 6 (4)
2. England 4 (3)
3. Croatia 4 (3)

photo by: HNS

photo by: HNS

photo by: HNS

photo by: HNS

photo by: HNS

Nations league - group stage, 15.11.2018., Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb. Spectators: 33018
Referees: ALeksei Kulbakov (BLR), Dmitri Zhuk (BLR), Oleg Maslyanko (BLR)
Fourth referee: Yury Khomchenko (BLR)
12Lovre Kalinić1David Quintana De Gea
9Andrej Kramarić
4Inigo Berridi Martinez
7Ivan Rakitić
5Sergio Burgos Busquets
10Luka Modrić6Saul Niguez Esclapez
2Šime Vrsaljko8Daniel Ceballo Fernandez
6Dejan Lovren9Rodrigo Moreno Machado
18Ante Rebić
15Sergio Garcia Ramos
16Tin Jedvaj
17Iago Juncal Asaps
4Ivan Perišić
18JOrdi Ramos Alba
21Domagoj Vida20Sergi Roberto Carnicer
11Marcelo Brozović22Roman Francisco Alarcon Suarez
1Dominik Livaković13Arrizabalaga Revuelta Kepa
23Karlo Letica23Pau Lopez
14Filip Bradarić2Diego Llorente
8Mateo Kovačić3Jose Luis Gaya Pena
5Matej Mitrović7Alvaro Borja Martin Morata
15Mario Pašalić10Marco WSillemsen Asensio
20Marko Pjaca
11Jesus Joaquin Fernandez Saenz De la Torre
3Antonio Milić12Mario Hermoso Canseco
19Milan Badelj14Cesar Tanco Azpilicueta
13Nikola Vlašić
16Rodrigo Henandez Cascante
17Marko Rog19Jonatan Otto Castro
22Josip Brekalo
21Pablo Fornals
Zlatko DalićLuis Enrique Martinez

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić and team captain Luka Modrić held a press conference regarding the Spain encounter in the UEFA Nations League.

Zlatko Dalić

"First of all, I would like to thank all the fans for buying all the available tickets. If many more were available, we would still play in front of the full crowd. Everybody is ready for the match but Pivarić, who has only recently recovered and we will be taking no chances with him. Jedvaj or Milić will play the left-back, and Kalinić will stand between the posts. In Elche, Croatia performed excellently for the first 20 minutes, but failed to convert chances. Now, we do not seek revenge, but a really important victory. If we win, we can decide who tops the group against England at Wembley, and what an encounter that would be, just like the World Cup semifinals. Spain does not focus on possession anymore, but on quick, direct moves, and we have to be careful - they were brilliant against us and we have to respect this"

Luka Modrić

"As always, we enjoy good team spirit on the eve of a really difficult match. We do not think about revenge, this will be an entirely new match, in front of our fans, and Croatia has to be patient and wise, staying true to its style until the end. We will give our best, supported by the cheers from the stands, and I believe we can achieve a positive result. Back in September, we were emotionally and physically empty, and that's normal in football. However, now we are in a better shape, and we need to present this on the pitch. Playing for Croatia is our main driving force, regardless of the competition or the opponent. Spain is full of great players, and their new manager has brought new energy and created a compact team that knows what to do. Still, we are not afraid, and we can win"




foto: HNS