Spain beat Croatia on penalties to win UEFA Nations League final


Spain held their nerve to win the UEFA Nations League final, beating Croatia 5-4 on penalties after 120 goalless minutes in Rotterdam.

Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal converted the winning free-kick after Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon saved efforts from Croatia’s Lovro Majer and Bruno Petkovic.

Spain’s win sealed their fifth major trophy and became the second nation after France to win the World Cup, European Championship and Nations League.

Manchester City duo Rodri and Aymeric Laporte won their fourth major trophy of the season as they scored to see Spain past in a shootout.

Croatia, who beat the Netherlands 4-2 after extra time in their semi-final on Wednesday, were hoping to win their first major tournament.

Spain didn’t have a single shot on target in a poor first half of regulation time, while Laporte’s last-ditch effort was thwarted by Andrej Kramarič and Ivan Perisic’s header forced Simon into a diving save.

Spain went close in the 58th minute when Marco Asensio headed their best chance, then just over the crossbar from Jordi Alba.

Croatia responded with Mario Pasalić’s header after another ball from Perisic before Spain picked it up, with Fabian Ruiz’s chipped effort and Asensio’s shot on the turn.

Spain came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 86th minute when Perisic blocked Ansu Fatih’s goal-line shot after a cut down by his team-mate Mikel Merino.

Croatian substitute Majer was also denied a final defensive save when his counter-attacking shot was blocked by Nacho in the first period of extra time.

Spain threw caution to the wind in the second period and finished the match on top.

Dani Olmo and Asensio deflected shots for a corner and Rodri’s effort was blocked as the third Nations League final went to penalties, with Carvajal converting a nervy winner.

Earlier on Sunday, Italy beat the Netherlands 3-2 in the play-off for third place in Enschede.

Roberto Mancini’s side, who sealed Nations League bronze for the second successive tournament, got off to a flying start as Federico Dimarco and Davide Frattesi put them 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.

Steven Bergwijn pulled one back for the Netherlands midway through the second half, but Federico Chiesa struck for Italy’s third four minutes later.

Georginio Wijnaldum set up a nervy finale with the Netherlands’ second goal in the 89th minute, but it was not enough to prevent a third defeat in four games under boss Ronald Koeman in his second in charge.

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