Spain secured their first UEFA Nations League title and their first major trophy since Euro 2012 by defeating Croatia 5-4 on penalties following a goalless draw. Substitute Dani Carvajal scored the decisive spot-kick in the shootout after extra time failed to break the deadlock. Luis de la Fuente, who took over as head coach in December, had a fantastic start to his tenure.
Croatia, 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists and third-place finishers in the previous year’s tournament, were seeking their first trophy. However, despite the impressive efforts of veteran Luka Modric throughout the 120 minutes, they couldn’t turn their ambition into reality. Substitute Lovro Majer and Bruno Petkovic missed their penalties, adding to the disappointment for the Croatian team in the UEFA Nations League final.
Spain began strongly despite playing in a venue dominated by Croatian supporters. Alvaro Morata had a close opportunity from a goalkeeper’s mistake, and Gavi narrowly missed the target with a shot, squandering two excellent chances to score. Nevertheless, Spain demonstrated their attacking intent early in the UEFA Nations League final.
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Croatia gradually found their rhythm and exploited Spain’s defensive line. Andrej Kramaric broke through but was denied by Aymeric Laporte’s block. Modric provided outstanding crosses for Ivan Perisic, who had two headers on goal, but Unai Simon made crucial saves on both occasions.
Jordi Alba delivered quality crosses for Morata and Marco Asensio, but both players missed the target with their headers. Perisic created half-chances for Josip Juranovic and Mario Pasalic, but Croatia lost momentum in the second half, giving Spain a stronger chance of victory.
Rodri unleashed a spectacular long-range effort that narrowly missed the target. Croatia, fatigued from their extra-time win over the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League semifinals, had moments of threat during the additional minutes but couldn’t maintain consistency.
In the penalty shootout, Joselu equalised for Spain after Nikola Vlasic put Croatia ahead. Marcelo Brozovic and Rodri both converted their penalties to make it 2-2. Modric and Mikel Merino successfully scored for their teams, leveling the score at 3-3.
Lovro Majer failed to find the net, but Asensio scored to give Spain a 4-3 advantage. Perisic equalised for Croatia, but Laporte missed for Spain. Ultimately, it came down to the final penalties. Petkovic missed his chance, and Carvajal converted to secure a 5-4 UEFA Nations League title for Spain.