Spain wins the UEFA Nations League for the first time after defeating Croatia in a penalty shootout.
Rodri completed a club and national title double in the space of eight days by assisting Spain to a penalty shoot-out victory over Croatia in the Nations League final.
It was brutal on Luka Modric, who was hoping to round off his international career by guiding Croatia to their first trophy. In the end, his Real Madrid teammate Dani Carvajal scored the game-winning goal.
Both sets of players kept their nerve during the thrilling shootout. Croatia’s first goal came from Nikola Vlasic, but Spain’s penalty attempt was saved by Joselu.
Croatia’s Marcelo Brozovic made it 2-1 before Rodri, the night’s man-of-the-match, leveled decisively for Spain. Modric next caressed his easily into the roof of Unai Simon’s net, but Mikel Merino equalized with even more calm.
Simon then saved from Lovro Majer, and Spain took the lead when Marco Asensio scored. But Ivan Perisic scored, and with a chance to win, Aymeric Laporte hit the crossbar.
The 25,000 Croatian supporters in Rotterdam felt it was their night. Simon saved again, this time from Bruno Petkovic. Carvajal won it with a Panenka-style kick to give Spain their first trophy since winning the Euros in 2012.
Spain is the Champion of the Europe
Croatia had absorbed early Spanish pressure and attempted to strike Spain on the break, with Andrei Kramaric only prevented by a vital Laporte interception in the first half.
Jordi Alba’s crosses posed the greatest threat to Spain. The captain, who also scored in Spain’s Euro 2012 victory, fired in a cross from the left, but Asensio got beneath it with a header as Spain began to generate more chances.
Six minutes before the end, an incredible Alba ball found Mikel Merino, who crossed for Ansu Fati.
His attempt seemed goalbound, but Perisic cleared it off the line, sending the game into extra time.
Lovro Majer was denied a goal in the first half of extra time by a save from replacement Nacho.
He was wounded during the procedure. He forced to limp the remainder of the game since Spain had exhausted all of their replacements.
Spain had opportunities in the final 15 minutes of the marathon, with Asensio missing an opportunity set up for him by Alba and Dani Olmo shooting wide. Even the tenacious Modric was flagging at the finish.
He had once again been Croatia’s pass maestro, but they had failed to capitalize on their chances and were relying on penalties. When the shootout began, Modric’s friend Carvajal scored the game-winning goal.
‘There is no discussion,’ Rodri remarked when questioned about Spain coach Luis de la Fuente’s future. He’d been under pressure since taking over for Luis Enrique four games ago.
‘We played the final, and we won it,’ City midfielder David Silva said as Alba raised Spain’s first prize in 11 years.