Spain hold off Croatia

by admin on Вторник, Июнь 19th, 2012

Bilic’s men bow out following 1-0 defeat in Gdansk

Croatia bowed out of Euro 2012 as Spain secured their place in the quarter-finals thanks to a 1-0 victory on a nervy night in Gdansk.

Italy’s victory over Republic of Ireland in Monday evening’s other Group C match put the future participation of both these teams in doubt and there was uncertainty right until the final whistle, but ultimately Jesus Navas’ 88th minute winner proved the difference.

Spain produced a superb performance to dismantle Republic of Ireland in their previous match, but found Croatia much tougher to break down, with Slaven Bilic’s well-organised side repelling every attack in the first half with relative comfort.

However, Vicente del Bosque’s men knew that a draw would guarantee progression to the last eight and the onus was on Croatia to win the match, so they had no choice but to throw more men forward after the interval.

They carved out a glorious opportunity just before the hour mark when Luka Modric picked out Ivan Rakitic at the back post with a sublime cross, but the unmarked midfielder was denied by Iker Casillas’ point-blank save.

Croatia continued to look dangerous on the break in a tense finale, but Spain’s ability to control possession allowed them to hang on and they sealed top spot in Group C when Navas tapped in from Andres Iniesta’s pass two minutes from time.

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