José Escalante with brilliant premiere in Canadian soccer – Diario Deportivo Más

Spain overcame a litmus test against Croatia, which they defeated 5-3 with two goals in extra time, in the round of 16 of the European Championship and will play the quarterfinals on Friday in Saint Petersburg against the winner of France-Switzerland.

La Roja was not among the eight best of a great competition since it closed its magic cycle almost ten years ago – European champion in 2008 and 2012, the world champion in 2010-.

Pablo Sarabia (minute 38), César Azpilicueta (57) and Ferran Torres (77) had come back from Pedri’s own goal (20).

But Croatia came back to life in the final minutes and took the game into extra time thanks to Misla Orsic (85) and Mario Pasalić (90 + 2).

In extra time, it was Spain that took the lead with goals from Álvaro Morata (100) and Mikel Oyarzabal (103).

– The gift of the tournament –

Pedri, who at 18 became the youngest footballer to play the second phase of the Eurocup, had caused a perfect storm in the 20th minute.

He played from midfield with some power over goalkeeper Unai Simón. The ball passed over his foot and became the greatest gift of the championship.

Spain was thrown out of place and Croatia, pushed by thousands of fans in the stands of the Parken Stadium, smelled the blood. Nikola Vlasic won the melee against Eric García and shot outside the net (25) and a minute later Mateo Kovacic did it too high.

Healing the trauma required an exercise in maturity and it was Sarabia, the player of the moment in the Red, who found the way out, making a powerful punt by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Croatia had promised to dispute the ball and not lock themselves in, but in practice they waited in their field, allowing the Spanish horizontal game but biting as soon as a midfielder tried to break lines.

Rocky and expeditious, the world runner-up nevertheless left some cracks and Spain had been the only one to add opportunities in the first half.

The most outstanding was made by Pedri when he read a mistake from the Croatian defense to serve Koke on a tray, for whom the goal was made small (16).

With a little more space in the second half came the Spanish 2-1. Pedri combined with Torres on the left and his clean center was headed by Azpilicueta.

– Unai Simón takes it out –

Then Torres, a novelty in Luis Enrique’s eleven, completed his great Danish afternoon by finishing off with class the serve from a long free kick after another Croatian concentration error.

When it seemed that everything was sold, the carousel of changes in Spain, with five in 17 minutes (between 71 and 88), dislodged the Red and Croatia, a chameleon capable of always finding a way to compete, equalized.

First Orsic finished off a messy play and then Pasalic hit a nice header that gave away 30 more minutes of football.

The runner-up in the world had been reborn. Again his fans roared and he was close to going ahead with a shot over the crossbar from Orsic (92), providential coming off the bench with a goal and a decisive pass.

In 96 Simón retaliated in style for his mistake by signing a spectacular save against Andrej Kramaric.

The game was a slide of emotions. With Spain on the ropes, the criticized Morata appeared to control a Dani Olmo center and burst the nets.

Once again Olmo, the most Croatian of the Spaniards after spending six years at Dinamo Zagreb, crossed from the right so that Oyarzabal achieved the 5-3, finally definitive. AFP (HN)



Croatia: Dominik Livakovic – Josip Juranovic (Josip Brekalo 74), Domagoj Vida, Duje Caleta Car, Josko Gvardiol – Luka Modric (cap) (Luka Ivanusec 114), Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic (Ante Budimir 79) – Nikola Vlasic (Mario Pasalic 79 ), Bruno Petkovic (Andrej Kramaric 46), Ante Rebic (Mislav Orsic 67). DT: Zlatko Dalic.

Spain: Unai Simón – Cesar Azpilicueta, Eric García (Pau Torres 72), Aymeric Laporte, José Luis Gayá Peña (Jordi Alba 78) – Koke (Fabián Ruiz 78), Sergio Busquets (cap) (Rodrigo Hernández 102), Pedri – Ferran Torres (Mikel Oyarzabal 88), Alvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia (Daniel Olmo 71). DT: Luis Enrique.


Croatia: Pedri (20 against), Orsic (85), Pasalic (90 + 2)

Spain: Sarabia (38), Azpilicueta (57), Ferran Torres (77), Morata (100), Oyarzabal (103)


Croatia: Brozovic (73), Caleta Car (84)

Stadium: Parks (Copenhague)

Assistance: 24,000 viewers

Referee: Cüneyt Cakir (ENG)