ZAGREB. — Spain passed up the chance to seal progress to the Nations League soccer finals as they were beaten 3-2 by Croatia on Thursday night, undone by a 93rd-minute winner from Tin Jedvaj.
Jedvaj’s late strike leaves Group 4 wide open ahead of its final fixture between England and Croatia tomorrow. The victors will qualify, while Spain can still go through if the match at Wembley finishes in a draw.
Croatia were deserving winners in Zagreb, where Jedvaj scored twice – his first international goals – to snatch a memorable victory at the end of a pulsating contest.
Andrej Kramaric had put Croatia ahead but twice Spain came back, as Dani Ceballos’ equaliser and Sergio Ramos’ penalty looked to have earned them a point, before Jedvaj prodded in deep into injury-time.
Croatia will now head to London with a spring in their step while Spain are left to ponder back-to-back defeats under their new coach Luis Enrique, following their surprise loss by the same scoreline at home to England last month.
“I am obviously worried about the things we have to improve. But I think football today has not been fair to us,” Enrique said.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said: “We were rewarded for a magnificent match.”
Spain are at least safe from relegation, which cannot be said of either England or Croatia, who could still both finish first or last come Sunday night. England will be relegated if they lose or are held to a score draw. Croatia will go down if they are beaten or draw 0-0.
“It shows it was a very difficult group,” Luis Enrique added. “We still have a chance.”
Diario AS summed up Spain’s position with the headline “Win or wait in hope” on Thursday. For Croatia, there was pride to be restored, after their 6-0 humiliation in Elche in September. “Six reasons to respond”, read the front page of Croatian daily Sportske Novosti. — AFP.