Tribal Football

Spain impress to defeat Croatia in Euros opener

Spain impress to defeat Croatia in Euros opener
Lamine Yamal
Lamine YamalAction Plus
Spain kicked off their UEFA European Championship 2024 in style by beating Croatia 3-0 for an eighth win in their last 11 matches against the Croats.

Arguably the pick of the fixtures from the first round of matches in this famous tournament, it was Spain who took control of the contest early on. Berlin’s mighty Olympiastadion set the scene for La Roja’s brilliant first-half display with Luis de la Fuente’s side ensuring Croatia and midfield stalwart Luka Modric could not get a foothold in the game.

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Looking a vastly more dynamic team than under de la Fuente’s predecessor Luis Enrique, the Spaniards wasted no time in spreading the ball to the flanks throughout. But it was a direct pass straight into the heart of the Croatia defence which helped La Roja banish the ghosts of their tepid goalscoring display at the last FIFA World Cup.

Alvaro Morata was set through before obliging with a composed finish into the bottom corner just before the half-hour mark - his seventh goal from 11 appearances in this competition.

Alvaro Morata's opening goal
Alvaro Morata's opening goalOpta by StatsPerform, AFP

The side draped in red were now bouncing and a whirlwind end to the first period saw midfielder Fabian Ruiz and Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal make it 3-0 to Spain before the break. 

Firstly, Ruiz twisted and turned in the area before smashing past a helpless Dominik Livakovic, before Carvajal knocked in a superb whipped delivery from gifted Barcelona winger Lamine Yamal, who at 16 years old is now the youngest-ever player to feature in this tournament.

Match stats
Match statsOpta by StatsPerform

An emphatic start mightn’t have surprised those who watched De la Fuente’s men breeze through qualification, but with their appetite barely whetted by an impressive first-half performance, this Spanish side clearly meant business as they continued to fire at their opponents’ net.

Croatia appeared shell-shocked, and a side who had beaten Portugal in their last outing weren’t even allowed the reprieve of a late consolation when Bruno Petkovic’s goal, which he tapped in after initially failing with his spot-kick, was ruled out by the VAR.

With little more than flashes in a tepid display, and with many of their more experienced stars likely playing in their final major international tournament this summer, Croatia now have a mountain to climb to escape this year’s ‘group of death’.

Contrastingly, the sole blot on a brilliant afternoon for the Spanish team was found in the early withdrawal of Morata, and fans will be hoping that he recovers in time for a mouth-watering tie with Italy next up.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Lamine Yamal (Spain)

Spain - Croatia player ratings
Spain - Croatia player ratingsFlashscore

Check out all the match stats with Flashscore.