Croatia knock down European Champions Spain | Euro 2016

The Vatreni are victorious in Bordeaux, after scoring a last minute goal to defeat current European Champions Spain 2-1.

It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions for Croatia this week. Going from the lowest of lows as they gave away a 2-0 lead against Czech Republic due to crowd trouble, to the highest of highs tonight as they defeat Spain to top group D.

Uefa, European football’s governing body fined Croatia €100,000 (£76,743), and prohibited the Croatian Football Federation from selling tickets to specific fans ‘alleged hooligans’. 

It’s the first time Spain have been beaten in 14 games at the European Championships.

After conceding an early goal from Morata in the eighth minute, Croatia managed to soak up La Furia’s pressure for the remainder of the first half and score a late equalizer on the break. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perišić made a darting run down the left wing to pinpoint a cross to team-mate Nikola Kalinić who finished with a classy back-heel goal. 

The equalizer seemed to spark motivation and belief in the Croatians, who stepped up the pace in the second half. Croatian hearts stopped as Dutch Referee Bjorn Kuipers made a controversial decision to award Spain a penalty in the 70th minute. As David Silva dashed into the box to meet a cross, he fell to the ground despite their being no contact at all from Sime Vrsaljko behind him. The referee pointed to the spot and the Croatian players reacted furiously to the outrageous call from the referee.

Justice was served as Sergio Ramos’s penalty was incredibly saved by 31 year old keeper Danijel Subašić.

It was evident the Croatian players were running on adrenaline after an amazing save from their hero Subašić. It proved to be the difference in the final moments, as Perišić scored a last gasp winner to win the game for Croatia.

Croatia now go top of Group D, and avoid playing France, England, Germany, Spain and Italy in the next round. Spain will now play Italy at Stade de France in the round of 16.

Every game has been built on emotion for Croatia, a team led by Modric and Rakitic that have given their all in every game. In the past emotion has been their kryptonite, but in this tournament it has been their catalyst for success. 
How far can the Croatians go? 

Ari Charilaou