The Under-21 European Championship continued on Monday with quarterfinal matches in which the young Croatian national team fought against Spain for a spot in the semifinals.
Igor Bišćan’s side met Spain at Ljudski vrt stadium in Maribor.
“The guys are aware that we have a great chance, they are motivated to do something and we are all around them to give them that chance and be supportive. They have quality,” Bišćan announced before the match.
Access was allowed to the stadiums in accordance with the relevant local legislation, which warranted the arrival of spectators. The stadium saw mostly Croatia fans!
Spain: Fernandez – Mingueza, Guillamon, Cuenca, Pedrosa – Beltran, Zubimendi, Garcia – Diaz, Nino, Gil
Croatia: Šemper – Šutalo, Vušković, Gvardiol, Bradarić – Babec, Franjić, Moro – Majer, Musa, Ivanušec
Croatia was solid in the first half and threatened the Spain goal on a few occasions. Despite Spain’s high pressure, Ivanušec had a chance from 20 meters in the 7th minute, and in the 23rd, Bradarić’s shot was blocked by the Spain defense. Spain retaliated with a Diaz shot from 20 meters, but Croatia’s defense made it difficult for them to do much more.
Another chance for Croatia happened in the 36th minute. Ivanušec pulled a quick counter and found Bradarić who precisely played Majer. Majer’s shot, unfortunately, hit the Spain player.
The match ended without goals at the half.
Spain entered the second half better with many more chances than Croatia. Bišćan introduced Croatia’s first sub in the 64th minute when Špikić came on for Musa. Spain’s constant pressure paid off in the end – Espanyol striker Javi Puado put them in the lead in the 66th minute for 1:0.
In the 72nd minute, Bistrović replaced Babec, and Kulenović entered instead of Moro. In the 78th minute, Djurasek and Biuk entered for Franjić and Majer.
Croatia was lucky to not get scored on again as Spain continued to threaten their half, but they had a few chances, too.
The ref added 4 minutes of injury time. Hajduk wunderkind Stipe Biuk was fouled in the penalty box for a penalty in the 91′ minute! Ivanušec was perfect for the penalty equalizer! The match went into extra time.
Croatia played very openly in the first half as Bišćan introduced all the offensive players he had at the end of the second half. Spain had a lot of space, but Croatia defended well. The first half ended without goals.
Unfortunately, the talent of Puado was too much for Croatia once more, as he took on three players to score in the 110′. It was 2:1 for Spain.
Spain will continue to the semi-final against the winner of Portugal/Italy, to be played at 9pm tonight.
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