Spain 1 Croatia 0 – Navas strikes late to break Croatian hearts
Spain are through to the Euro 2012 quarter finals, although it was a nervous final Group C match against Croatia and the holders could easily have been eliminated after their opponents fashioned some reasonable scoring chances.
June 18th, 2012
Ivan Rakitic came especially close to heading the ball home from a Luka Modric cross with the scoreline goalless, although Iker Casillas was equal to the header and the Spanish were able to strike late and ensure they finished top of the section.
Manager Vicente del Bosque continued with Fernando Torres although the Chelsea forward was largely ineffective after going close with an early header, while his withdrawal in the second half saw Spain lack a cutting edge in attack.
It was Torres’ replacement who was to prove the match winner, with Jesus Navas striking late in the game after Cesc Fabregas’ looped pass beat the offside trap and Andres Iniesta was able to ease the ball across to Navas who couldn’t miss from close range.
Nevertheless, it was a Spain team that struggled and Slaven Bilic will feel disappointed that his team didn’t qualify after a 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland and then a 1-1 draw with Italy which saw his team dominate the second half.
The Spanish will play the runner-up in Group D which is likely to be England as things stand.