Spain beat Croatia to claim first Nations League title
Spain emerged champions of the 2022/2023 UEFA Nations League, following a 5-4 penalty shootout victory in the Final over Croatia, after regulation time had finished goalless.
On the half-hour mark, Ivan Perisic powered a towering header towards the bottom left corner, but Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon was on hand to thwart his effort.In the 65th minute, Rodri unleashes a long-range shot which went inches wide of the left post. But the clearest chance came in the 84th minute when substitute Ansu Fati’s goalbound shot was blocked off the line.
Extra-time was needed in a bid to separate both teams, as scores were level after 90 minutes.
In the ensuing penalty shootout, Nicolo Vlasic, Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic scored for Croatia but Majer and Bruno Petkovic missed as Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon both saved their efforts.
For Spain, Joselu, Rodri, Mikel Merino, Marco Asensio and Dani Carvajal converted with the exception of Aymeric Laporte, who failed to convert from twelve yards.
The victory sees Spain claim the UEFA Nations League for the first time, and a first international title since the UEFA European Championship (Euros) in 2012.
Meanwhile, Italy claimed the consolation bronze medals at the Nations League finals, and added to a disappointing week for hosts the Netherlands, as they edged the Dutch 3-2 in yesterday’s third place playoff tie at the Twente Stadium.
Federico Dimarco thrashed the ball home at the far post in the sixth minute and Davide Frattesi doubled the score from in front of goal in the 20th minute to give Italy a comfortable halftime lead.
But the Dutch launched a concerted second half comeback, making three attacking changes at the break, laying siege to Italy’s goal and seeing Steven Bergwijn pull a goal back in the 68th minute.
Federico Chiesa restored the two goal advantage at the end of a 73rd minute counterattack but there was an exciting conclusion as Georginio Wijnaldum got a second for the Dutch in the 89th. But even though nine minutes of stoppage time was added on, Italy held out under home pressure for victory.