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Euro 2024: Spain lay down the marker with impressive win over Croatia

By primenewsghana
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Three-time winners Spain impressively started their Euro 2024 campaign with a 3-0 triumph over Croatia on Saturday.

Spain side quickly built a 2-0 lead when Man of the Match Fabiann Ruiz set up Alvaro Morata in the 29th and scored the second himself three minutes later. Dani Carvajal added a third shortly before the break in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

Croatia thought they pulled one back in the 80th after Bruno Petkovic had a penalty saved by Unai Simon but got the ball back to score.

The goal, however, was ruled out because Ivan Perisic, who assisted Petkovic, was already with one foot in penalty area when the spot-kick was taken, to the disappointment of the overwhelming majority of Croatian fans at the Olympic stadium.

Croatia have recently been convenient opponents for Spain, losing to the Spanish side in the last 16 of Euro 2020 and in last year’s Nations League final.

Spain top Group B ahead of holders Italy’s clash against Albania later on Saturday.

Spain’s Lamine Yamal became the youngest player in European championship history making his debut at 16 years 338 days, and also provided the assist for Carvajal.

“The most important thing is that we won. The assist was important, but so was the goal. I thought the team did really well. We did what we wanted to and worked very hard for it. We achieved everything we wanted as a team, which is important,” Ruiz said.

He added in the direction of the Barcelona youngster Yamal: “He’s a wonderful player and it’s fantastic he’s with us.” Yamal said: “Of course it’s so important. It gives us confidence as a team. Now we can focus on the next one.”

Spain got their opener just when Luka Modric’s Croatia were starting to find their way out of their own defensive half as Fabián Ruiz’s through-ball from the centre circle found Morata on a run and the striker slotted it in.

Croatia tried to quickly equalize with Mateo Kovacic, but Unai Simon held the ball as Spain wasted no time and Ruiz got one to his name as he dribbled the defenders before putting the ball between the post.

Croatia again had a big chance just after the Spain goal. Marcelo Brozovic’s effort from the edge of the box was saved by Simon and Lovro Majer slammed a rebound into the side-netting.

Another good chance to pull one back came in the 41st when Josko Gvardiol’s shot went dangerously close to the goal, but it was Spain who found the target again before the break, this time with Carvajal.

Croatia tried to fight back after the break and had the ball in the back of the net with 10 minutes left after Petkovic had his spot-kick saved by Simon whose fluffed pass had to led the spot kick awarded after Rodri tripped Petkovic.

Petkovic was on target after Perisic had recovered the ball but Perisic and several other Croatia players ran into the box too quickly and the goal was nullified.

That sealed Croatia’s joint biggest defeat at the Euros, having also lost 3-0 against Portugal in 1996.