Croatia 2-1 Spain: Late Perisic strike stuns Spain, gives Croatia Group D win

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Without Luka Modric, the Croatians seemingly had a mountain to climb against one of the Euro 2016 favorites. They climbed the mountain and won Group D.

Ivan Perisic delivered a pinpoint assist on Croatia’s first and beat David De Gea on his near post for the winner, giving Spain a much tougher route through the knockout round.

Morata opened the scoring in just the seventh minute, capping off a wonderful team goal sprung by an outstanding cutback from David Silva that found the run of Cesc Fabregas streaking towards the end line. His ball across face of goal was touched in by Morata to break the ice.

Croatia had an amazing chance just six minutes later on what would have been a goal of the tournament contender. David de Gea committed a ghastly error, feeding Ivan Rakitic who tried to chip the Spanish goalkeeper from distance. The looping ball pegged the underside of the crossbar and then the post, coming down just in front of the line.

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With Spain dominating possession and chugging towards the break, Croatia bagged a goal against the run of play just before the halftime whistle. A cross from well outside the box came in from Perisic, and the ball flew over the head of Sergio Busquets. It came to Nicola Kalinic at the near post, and the striker spun around and poked the ball in expertly with the outside of his foot.

Spain had an opportunity to take the lead when the referee pointed to the spot in the 72nd minute after a questionable foul by Darijo Srna. Sergio Ramos stepped up to take the penalty, but a poor hit was saved easily by Danijel Subosic. Replays showed the goalkeeper was well off his line on the save, and players from both teams were encroaching well into the penalty area on the shot, but the play stood.

Croatia pounced on the opening, striking in injury time for the win. A pure counter-attack gave them the chance, and Perisic beat Sergio Ramos down the left side of the box, finishing inside David de Gea’s near post to stun the Group D favorites. With the last kick of the game, Spain nearly had a last-gasp goal to level things up, but David Silva’s ball in front of net was blocked heroically by Vedran Corluka, and the final whistle gave Croatia all three points, moving them atop Group D.

The group win means Croatia will take on a third-placed team in the knockout round, while Spain must match up with Italy in the round of 16, and could face Germany in the quarterfinals.