Six months after the World Cup disappointment, Spain’s national soccer team has consoled itself with the first trophy in eleven years. In the final of the UEFA Nations League, the much younger team beat third-placed Croatia 5-4 on penalties and snatched the first title from Luka Modric’s golden generation. It was 0-0 after 90 and 120 minutes because the teams had neutralized each other for long stretches. The strong one-on-one Croatians, who beat the Netherlands 4-2 after extra time in the semi-finals, left Spain little room to combine. Spain had more of the game but didn’t score.
Excitement in the penalty shootout
The penalty shoot-out then turned into a thriller: Croatia’s fourth scorer, Lovro Majer, missed a penalty against Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon. Spain had the advantage. The next two shooters scored, leaving Spain’s Aymeric Laporte to convert. But the defender from Champions League winners Manchester City only hit the crossbar. Croatia were back in contention, but Bruno Petkovic was also denied by the Spanish goalkeeper. Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal converted the decisive penalty. His Madrid team-mate Luka Modric and the Croatian side, on the other hand, will have to wait for their first international trophy.
Italy wins third place match
European champions Italy, who lost 2-1 to the Spaniards on Thursday, won the small final in Enschede against the Netherlands 3-2 (2-0). Federico Dimarco (6th minute), Davide Frattesi (20th) and Federico Chiesa (73rd) scored the goals for coach Roberto Mancini’s team in a game that was very entertaining, especially in the second half secured third place in this competition. Steven Bergwijn (68′) and Georginio Wijnaldum (90′) shortened twice for Team Oranje.
asz/qu (SID, dpa)