NETHERLANDS: Spain won the 2022–23 UEFA Nations League season with a penalty victory over Croatia, overcoming a final hurdle in the competition. Both teams had chances but struggled during normal and overtime phases.
Croatia made mistakes early in the game, but poor finishing and offside flags kept the score even. Tottenham winger Ivan Perisic was a persistent threat, while Marcos Asensio’s header and Rodri’s long-range shot helped Spain within one goal of Croatia. Perisic blocked Ansu Fati’s attempt. This game was a different experience from the frenetic Euro 2021 match, where Spain won 5-3.
Extra time was limited, and Croatia’s success in penalty shootouts has been remarkable. They defeated Brazil and Japan at the 2022 Qatar World Cup and Denmark and Russia in the previous event. Croatia’s proficiency in shootouts, aided by Luka Modric and keeper Dominik Livakovic, has led to silver and bronze medals in the last two World Cups.
The plot is distinct, with both teams’ penalty takers converting all three first-round attempts, leaving the score at 3-3. Spain’s starting custodian Unai Simon had the first chance at victory when Lovro Majer’s weak penalty kick was blocked, giving Spain the lead.
Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte attempted to earn a penalty for his team, but his attempt was overly ambitious and crashed off the bar. The story twists when Croatia’s semifinal opponent, the Netherlands, is the hero. Bruno Petkovic, despite his strong effort, couldn’t overcome Simon’s incredible save.
Dani Carvajal, a veteran right-back for Real Madrid, volunteered to play for Spain and attempted to win the game in sudden death. This time, there would be no error as Carvajal calmly slid the ball past Livakovic to give Spain its first Nations League championship and first trophy in more than ten years.
Spain outperformed France in the 2021 Nations League final thanks to coach Luis De La Fuente’s improved performance. After a 2-0 loss to Scotland in European Championship qualifying, Spain’s players celebrated their victory by celebrating with a small group of supporters in a specific stadium area.