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Spain beat Croatia in eight-goal thriller as Morata answers critics

Spain’s defender Cesar Azpilicueta (2R) and teammates celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between Croatia and Spain at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 28, 2021. (Photo by Martin Meissner / POOL / AFP)

Spain reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion by beating Croatia in extra time after an eight-goal thriller.

Luis Enrique’s side were rocked when Croatia substitutes Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic scored twice in the final five minutes to come back from 3-1 down and force extra time, but Spain rallied as the added 30 minutes produced yet more drama.

Striker Alvaro Morata, who revealed before the match that his family have been threatened during the tournament as a result of his performances, silenced his critics when he thumped in Spain’s fourth goal in extra time in Copenhagen.

The scoring did not end there as Mikel Oyarzabal added a fifth goal three minutes later to finally see off Croatia, who had fought bravely in this highly entertaining last-16 tie.

In a hint of what was to come, 20 minutes into the game goalkeeper Unai Simon failed to control Pedri’s 49-yard back pass, presenting Croatia with the lead.

That bizarre own goal sparked a response from Spain though, with Pablo Sarabia thumping in an equaliser, Cesar Azpilicueta heading in another and Ferran Torres making it 3-1.

Spain looked comfortable and poised to cruise through but Croatia burst into action through their substitutes late on to force added time.

The thrilling moments continued as Simon made up for his earlier error with a heroic stop from close range to deny Andrej Kramaric before Morata went up the other end to crucially put Spain ahead again.

It was the most entertaining match of the tournament to date and three-time champions Spain will face Switzerland – after they beat France in another brilliant match – in the quarter-finals.

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