Modric converts penalty as Croatia clinch 4-2 win against Netherlands in UEFA Nations League

Veteran midfielder Luka Modric successfully converted an extra-time penalty, securing a thrilling 4-2 victory for Croatia over the Netherlands and a spot in the UEFA Nations League final. The 37-year-old sealed the scoring from the penalty spot in the 116th minute on Wednesday.

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Modric, who made his 165th appearance for the national team, expressed his desire to continue playing until at least the UEFA Nations League, following his captaincy during Croatia’s victory over Morocco in the World Cup third-place game in Qatar.

Finishing runner-up in the 2018 World Cup and third in Qatar 2022, Croatia are determined to secure their first major international title. This time, the UEFA Nations League final is their best bet.

In extra time, substitute Bruno Petkovic contributed with a well-placed shot just outside the penalty area. The ball flew into the corner, eluding Justin Bijlow as the resilient Dutch defence finally crumbled.

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Netherlands forward Noa Lang, also a substitute, forced the match into extra time with a volleyed equaliser in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Earlier in the enthralling UEFA Nations League semi-final, Andrej Kramaric converted a penalty in the 55th minute, awarded for a foul on Modric, and Mario Pasalic’s shot in the 73rd minute cancelled out Donyell Malen’s 34th-minute opener, keeping Croatia and Modric in contention for their first major international title.

This defeat halts the Netherlands’ latest quest to add another international trophy to the European Championship they won in 1988. The Netherlands finished as runners-up in three World Cups, in 1974, 1978, and 2010.

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Lang scored only his second international goal shortly after coming on in the 85th minute. However, he missed a great opportunity in the second half of extra time when his shot hit the side netting with Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic out of position.

Modric found the back of the net in the 24th minute, but referee Istvan Kovacs had already halted play due to Pasalic’s overhead kick that brought down Nathan Ake.

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Spain and Italy will face off in the other semifinal in the city of Enschede on Thursday. The UEFA Nations League final and the third-fourth playoff of the third edition of the Nations League will take place on Sunday.

During Koeman’s initial tenure as coach of the national team, the Netherlands suffered a 1-0 loss to Portugal in the inaugural final of the biennial UEFA Nations League. Two years later, in 2021, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe scored as France defeated Spain 2-1 to claim the title.

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