The top spot in Spain’s UEFA Nations League group was there for the taking on Thursday evening in Zagreb. Even a draw at Croatia would’ve put manager Luis Enrique’s side in a relatively comfortable position heading into the final matchday. But a stoppage-time goal brought a crucial moment that completely opened up the group.
Croatia earned a dramatic 3-2 victory, as Spain twice were able to level the scoreline. All five goals came in the second half, after an initial 45 minutes that was short on opportunities at goal. Few chances were seen early on, with perhaps the best of the bunch coming just before the half-time break, as Isco’s chip shot almost made its way past goalkeeper Lovre Kalinić.
Spain continued that attacking approach in the second half, and looked likely to open the scoring. Instead, Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kramarić found the back of the net after a poor clearance in the penalty area. Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos netted his first international goal only minutes later, making the score 1-1.
A perfect pass from Luka Modrić set up Croatia’s second tally, with defender Tin Jedvaj doing the damage. After such a muted first half, the tempo was significantly increased in the second as both squads searched for more goals.
Spain were awarded a late penalty-kick, and captain Sergio Ramos put away the equaliser from the spot. In the end though it was Jedvaj striking again, this time in the 93rd minute, to deliver all three points for Croatia.
All to play for on Sunday!
England win = England win group, Croatia relegated
Croatia win = Croatia win group, England relegated
Goalless draw = Spain win group, Croatia relegated
Score draw = Spain win group, England relegated
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 15, 2018
The final match between England and Croatia on Sunday will decide Spain’s fate. A draw will see them finish atop the group, while a victory for either side will push the winner ahead of La Furia Roja.
There were certainly some positives to be taken from this performance for Spain, but Luis Enrique will be disappointed in his team for conceding the late winner. Now, they must sit and wait.