An 87th minute Ivan Perisic winner knocked Spain in to second in Group D, sealing a 2-1 win for Croatia after Sergio Ramos missed a penalty. Croatia are top while Turkey’s win over the Czech Republic gives them hope.
The former Wolfsburg man’s late strike settled an engaging contest in Bordeaux. The loss for Spain, their first loss at the European Championship since 2004, means that the defending champions will play Italy in the round of 16 on Monday in Paris, the very opponent they beat in 2012 to lift the trophy. Croatia will play a third placed team from group B, E or F.
The scenes at the end of the game were a far cry from the start when, just seven minutes in, a clever, perfectly-weighted through ball by David Silva found Cesc Fabregas in space in the right hand side of the box. The Chelsea midfielder looked up to pick out Alvaro Morata, who bundled the ball home from close range for his third goal of the tournament.
Croatia, who were missing Real Madrid’s Luka Modric through injury, almost restored parity soon after, following a sloppy pass from Spanish keeper David de Gea. Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic picked up the loose ball at the corner of the box and hit a beautifully controlled dink that clipped the underside of the bar before bouncing on the line.
Both sides looked accomplished on the ball in one of the highest quality games of the tournament thus far and Croatia were rewarded for their part in that shortly before the break.Perisic beat his man on the left before swinging in a cross that Nikola Kalinic flicked low past David de Gea on the volley to tie things up.
The second half saw fewer chances as both sides probed in an attempt to find openings. In the end, the best chance came in the 70th minute thanks to Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers who saw a foul on David Silva in the Croatia box when no one else did. Thankfully for Croatia, Spain captain Sergio Ramos’s driven penalty was saved by Danijel Subasic, who dived low to his left to keep the scores level.
As Spain searched for the winner, Perisic struck with a sucker punch. In a textbook example of a counter attack, the Croats went from one end of the pitch to the other in three passes. Kalinic received the ball in a deep position before finding Perisic on the left and the winger beat David de Gea at the near post to seal the win and top spot in the group.
Croatia ended up topping group D with seven points and Spain also qualify with six points.
Turkey keep their hopes alive
In the other game in group D on Tuesday, a goal in either half gave Turkey a glimmer of hope .
It was the Turks, who were so utterly dominated by Spain last Friday, who took the lead in the tenth minute after some neat interplay on the right left new Borussia Dortmund signing Emre Mor in space. The 18-year-old’s cross was perfect for Burak Yilmaz to meet first-time and sweep the Turks ahead with their first goal of the tournament.
The sides then exchanged chances for most of the rest of the half, with both needing a win to stand any change of progression and went in level at the break.
With Mor, and fellow Turkish midfielder Arda Turan increasingly prominent, Turkey started to control the game and doubled their lead in the 65th minute through Ozan Tufan. The Fenerbahce man lashed in from wide in the penalty area after a lay off from club mate Mehmet Topal.
Despite the win, Turkey – with only three points and a negative goal difference - have to wait on other results to see if they qualify. But their win does mean Northern Ireland – who earlier lost 1-0 to Germany - are in the last 16.