Spain won their first-ever UEFA Nations League title after defeating Croatia 5-4 on penalties on Sunday.
La Roja becomes the third team to win the competition, narrowly defeating Croatia in a closely contested 120-minute match.
Unai Simón saves two penalty kicks, helping Spain win their first-ever UEFA Nations League title.
Dani Carvajal calmly scores the winning penalty kick, securing a 5-4 victory for Spain after Unai Simon’s save from Bruno Petkovic
The match in Rotterdam ended without any goals scored during the extra time period.
This victory marks Spain’s first international trophy in 11 years, since their successful campaign at Euro 2012.
Additionally, Spain becomes the second nation, after France, to win the World Cup, European Championship, and Nations League, as they had lost to France in the 2021 Nations League final.
During the shootout, Spain had a chance to secure the win earlier when Simon saved Lovro Majer’s penalty, but Aymeric Laporte hit Spain’s fifth penalty against the crossbar.
Nevertheless, Simon’s subsequent save from Petkovic’s penalty made way for Carvajal to become the hero of the match.
Luka Modric faced another heartbreak
Croatian football icon and his team fell short in their quest for a maiden title, after reaching the World Cup final in 2018 and finishing third in Qatar 2022.
The Croatian supporters showed strong presence in Rotterdam, displaying an ocean of Croatian flags and red and white jerseys in the De Kuip stadium.
This match was an opportunity for Modric, earning his 166th international cap, to cap off his illustrious career with his first international trophy.
Croatia started slowly, possibly feeling the pressure, as Gavi almost took advantage of Spain’s high press, but missed the target from a good position.
However, Croatia soon found their rhythm, causing issues for Spain with their direct style and nearly scoring when Laporte made a crucial tackle to deny Andrej Kramaric, who seemed poised to break free after a long ball.
As the game progressed towards extra time, Croatia continued to exert pressure. Despite their efforts, Spain had better scoring opportunities, with Marco Asensio coming close with a header, Fabian Ruiz narrowly chipping over the crossbar, and Ansu Fati being denied by Ivan Perisic’s goal-line clearance in the second half.
With no winner emerging in extra time, the outcome was determined by a penalty shootout, bringing joy to Spain and despair to Croatia.
It remains uncertain whether this was Modric’s final chance to secure a trophy for his country. The 37-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner is expected to announce his international future this week. Despite the defeat, there is a possibility that he may choose to continue playing and participate in next summer’s European Championship in Germany.