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Jun 22, 2016

Croatia 2-1 Spain: Ivan Perisic sends Croatia to the top of Group D and consigns Spain to a clash with Italy in the Euro 2016 last 16

Subasic was a long way off his line but got away with it as he turned away Ramos' penalty to keep the scores level
Croatia's Ivan Perisic celebrates after scoring his team's late winner in Bordeaux to beat Spain 2-1 and send his team top of Group D
One break was all it took. One sprint the length of the field and a shot David de Gea should have kept out, but didn’t, and Spain’s Euro 2016 bid was pitched into chaos.
Ivan Perisic’s 89th-minute winner for Croatia meant the sides swapped positions at the top of Group D — Croatia first, Spain second. Now Spain go into the draw’s bottom half, which is beginning to resemble a shark-infested pool.

France and Germany are down there, too. So are Italy, and it is they who face Vicente del Bosque’s Spain in Paris on Monday. It is a repeat of the Euro 2012 final and some night at Saint-Denis it should be. One for the spectators, if not the teams.Del Bosque lamented: ‘We had the game more or less controlled. We made errors and they punished us. We have to get over this.’
Indeed, Spain will kick themselves. They led after eight minutes and missed other chances.
But defensive frailty haunted them all night. De Gea had a case of the jitters akin to those when he first turned up at Manchester United. His captain Sergio Ramos was not much better and the defender missed a penalty, too.
In among all that were decent performances from David Silva and Cesc Fabregas. Both look remarkably full of running after a long season in the Premier League. But this Spain team has a vulnerable side and that is intriguing. Had they done the basics better here, they would have won.
Early on they were comfortable. Fielding the same line-up that had seen off the Czech Republic and Turkey, they started well and scored in the eighth minute.It was a great goal as Spain broke languidly through Sergio Busquets and Silva. The pass from the Manchester City player was perfect and, when Fabregas lifted the ball over the goalkeeper, it seemed destined for the net before Alvaro Morata nudged it over the line.
Spain seemed set. Playmaker Luka Modric was injured and not on the field for Croatia. It did not look as though the Eastern Europeans could hurt the holders.
Spain created and missed chances. Nolito — destined for City himself — volleyed wide, Ramos headed over and Morata could not control a lovely through ball from Fabregas.Another goal at that point may have sealed victory but Spain had already creaked a little at the other end.Ramos presented the ball to Nikola Kalinic, meaning De Gea had to save, then the goalkeeper conceded possession in the area and Ivan Rakitic lifted the ball on to bar, post and finally down on to the goalline. Close but not in.
Croatia eventually equalised just before half-time. A cross from the left by Perisic saw Ramos miss his header and, when the ball was flicked on, Kalinic propelled it over the line with a deft flick.
Even at 1-1 there seemed to be something in the air. Spain were not comfortable.
They created half-chances but missed them — Juanfran shooting wildly and Ramos heading wide yet again — but so did Croatia and, when Ramos missed a penalty with 19 minutes left, it was clear this would not be Spain’s night.Referee Bjorn Kuipers should not have awarded the penalty in the first place. The push he thought he saw by Sime Vrsaljko on Silva simply did not exist. Then Kuipers’ assistant failed to spot that goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was four yards off his line as he saved from Ramos.
It was not a great couple of minutes for the officials.
Del Bosque tried to close the game down with substitutes and a change of shape. He knew his team did not need to win.
But it was an innate urge to attack that cost them at the death as a move broke down on the edge of the Croatia penalty area and Kalinic raced the length of the field to feed Perisic on the overlap.
His low shot beat De Gea where no keeper should be embarrassed, at his near post. ‘Our spirit helped us and we were fighting until the last minute,’ said Perisic. ‘I think we can go far now. If we play like this, we can go to the very end.


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