Luka Modric and Croatia were eliminated from EURO 2020 after losing 5-3 in extra time to Spain in Copenhagen after a heroic Croatian comeback at the end of regulation. Modric captained Croatia in his 13th EURO appearance, a Croatian record. Croatia have never won a knockout match at the European Championship.
Zlatko Dalic and Croatia were forced into multiple changes. Ivan Persic was diagnosed with COVID-19 and Dejan Lovern was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Spain dominated the ball throughout the match and created multiple half chances. Pablo Sarabia struck the side netting after receiving an Alvaro Morata lay-off. Then Pedri unlocked the Croatian backline with a slashing pass to Koke. Dominik Livakovic made a crucial kick save to keep Spain off the board.
Morata had a chance to put Spain ahead as well but headed the ball off defender Domagoj Vida in the 19th minute. One minute later Croatia were up 1-0, courtesy of one of the most bizarre own goals you will ever see. Pedri played the ball back to goalkeeper Unai Simon. Under no pressure, Simon botched his first touch and the ball made its way into the back of the net.
Modric and Croatia built on the momentum provided by the goal. The Real Madrid midfielder turned out of pressure and played an outside of the boot pass to Nikola Vlasic, who was shepherded wide and shot into the side netting.
Spain found an equalizer in the 38th minute. La Roja put pressure on the Croatian goal and caused mayhem in the 18-yard box. Livakovic was forced into a save that he parried to the penalty spot. Sarabia arrived and made it 1-1.
Pinball inside the box but Spain get their goal! pic.twitter.com/K73U2kDCbU— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
Spain started the second half with sustained possession. In the 57th minute, Ferran Torres swung in a cross and Cesar Azpilicueta got in front of Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol. Azpilicueta met the cross with force and headed Spain into the lead.
AZPILICUETA ‼️— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
Spain turn it around on Croatia pic.twitter.com/GzTdtcqqpS
Croatia upped the tempo in search of the equalizer. Gvardiol got forward into the box and received a cut-back pass. He shot toward the near post but Simon saved the Croatian attempt.
F. Torres doubled the lead in the 77th lead. Substitute Pau Torres took a free kick quickly and caught Gvardiol out of position. F. Torres took a touch past the Croatian defender and finished calmly.
Modric drove into the box and cut the ball back with five minutes left in regulation. The initial shot was blocked but Mislav Orisc poked the ball just over the goal line.
LIFE FOR CROATIA!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
This isn't over just yet pic.twitter.com/tCFaNsdAlw
Six minutes of added time were added as Croatia desperately searched for a third goal. In the second minute of added time, Mario Pasalic made a great run into the box and met a cross with a flicked header that leveled the match at 3-3 and the match would be settled in extra time.
Croatia continued to expose Spain’s backline in extra time. Orsic curled a shot just over Simon’s goal a little over a minute into the extra time. Spain methodically possessed the ball and tried to play through the Croatian midfield.
Simon came up big in goal again, denying Andrej Kramaric from close range. Croatia almost conceded immediately on the other end. Dani Olmo hit a cut-back pass first time and the Croatian defense was able to get in front of the shot and deflect it away from goal.
Morata was lethal when he needed to be. He brought down an Olmo cross and smashed his half volley into the net in the 100th minute.
Morata and Olmo were involved again two minutes later. Morata played Olmo down the line and Olmo curled a ball behind the Croatian defense. Mikel Oyarzabal tapped the ball into the goal, making it 5-3.
5-3— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 28, 2021
SPAIN HAVE TURNED IT AROUND IN EXTRA TIME! pic.twitter.com/ylXWvJtTgP
Modric was replaced in the 114th minute and Croatia were unable to mount another two-goal come back and have been eliminated from EURO 2020.