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Spain beat Croatia on penalties to win Nations League

Spain beat Croatia 5-4 on penalties to clinch Nations League glory as they celebrated their first trophy win since Euro 2012.

Substitute Dani Carvajal converted the winning spot-kick with a Panenka after the game had finished goalless after extra-time, giving head coach Luis de la Fuente, only appointed Luis Enrique’s successor in December, a trophy-winning start to his tenure.

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Croatia, World Cup finalists in 2018 and third-placed finishers in Qatar last year, were hoping to lift their first trophy but could not find a way to goal across the 120 minutes despite the best efforts of Luka Modric, with substitutes Lovro Majer and Bruno Petkovic then seeing their penalties saved by Unai Simon in the shootout.

It was a heartbreaking outcome for serial overachievers Croatia, who, four days on from their extra-time win over the Netherlands in the semis, once again fall painfully short of a historic triumph.

Croatia, fatiguing after their extra-time win over the Netherlands only four days earlier, were certainly well backed in Rotterdam, with a sea of Croatian flags and red and white shirts in the De Kuip stands.

It remains to be seen whether this was Modric’s final chance to deliver a trophy for his country, with the 37-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner set to make an announcement on his international future this week.

Defeat may yet see him stay on to play in next summer’s European Championship in Germany.

Victory also means Spain become the second nation to win the World Cup, European Championship and Nations League following France, who beat the Spanish in the 2021 Nations League final.

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