• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Euro 2024: Spain begin campaign with impressive 3-0 win over Croatia

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Spain made an impressive start to their quest for a fourth European Championship title at the Euro 2024 with a 3-0 victory over Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday.

First-half goals from Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz, and Dani Carvajal sealed the outcome early, leaving Croatia with little to respond.

This win marks a strong statement for La Roja in their Euro 2024 campaign.

Notably, Barcelona winger Lamine Yamal became the youngest player in men’s Euros history by starting the game at 16 years and 338 days old.

However, it was Spain’s most experienced player, Morata, who gave them the lead, quieting the Croatian fans who had travelled to Germany’s capital.

Morata’s goal, his seventh at the Euros, ties him for third on the all-time list alongside Alan Shearer and Antoine Griezmann.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo, with 14 goals, and Michel Platini, with nine, are ahead of him.

“Of course, this gives us a boost and settles us, but in five days we have a big game against Italy,” said Spain coach Luis de la Fuente”.

“Above all, we have to stay calm. Our target is still very far away; we have to keep our feet on the ground.”

It was a tough night for Croatia, the 2022 World Cup semi-finalists.

They thought they had a consolation goal when substitute Bruno Petkovic tapped in after his penalty was saved by Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon.

However, VAR ruled the goal out for encroachment by Ivan Perisic. Croatia now faces a crucial match against Albania in Hamburg on Wednesday.

Ruiz set up the opening goal with a perfect pass from the halfway line, allowing Morata to race through and score his 36th goal for his country.

Just three minutes later, Ruiz scored, beating two defenders and firing a shot that deflected off Josip Sutalo past Dominik Livakovic.

Croatia almost pulled one back when Josko Gvardiol’s shot beat Simon but narrowly missed Ante Budimir, who couldn’t divert it into the net.

Spain continued to press and secured their victory in first-half stoppage time when Yamal’s cross was turned in by Carvajal.

Yamal nearly added a goal to his assist, but Livakovic denied him from close range early in the second half. Croatia’s woes deepened when Simon saved Petkovic’s late penalty, and VAR disallowed the follow-up for encroachment.

Croatia will aim to revive their Group B campaign against Albania in Hamburg on Thursday, the same day Spain faces reigning champions Italy in a highly anticipated match in Gelsenkirchen.