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You are here: Football Euros Euro 2016: Croatia stun Spain to top Group D

Euro 2016: Croatia stun Spain to top Group D

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An 87th minute goal from Inter Milan forward Ivan Perisic wherein he beat Spain keeper David de Gea at his near post has given Croatia a stunning 2-1 win over the two-time defending European Champions, condemning Spain to a second place finish in Group D and setting up a last 16 showdown with Italy in what would be a repeat of the 2012 European Championship final.

Spain completely dominated the first half, passing the ball with ease around the Croatian midfielders and took an early lead through in-form hitman Alvaro Morata, who stabbed home Cesc Fabregas' cross from close range after some wonderful interplay between the Chelsea playmaker and his Manchester City counterpart David Silva.

Spain were given a scare shortly after when Manchester United stopper, David de Gea, who had a shocking game, was caught in possession by Nikola Kalinic as the former Blackburn Rovers man played the ball to Ivan Rakitic, whose chip over De Gea, hit the crossbar, then the post and bounced on the goal line before making its way out.

Croatia did get an equalizer though completely against the run of play right on the stroke of half-time as Kalinic finished from close range from Ivan Perisic's left wing cross. It was a goal that Croatia barely deserved, but they went into the break on level pegging.

The seesaw nature of the contest continued in the second half when Croatia's appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears only for a controversial spot-kick to be awarded at the other end of the pitch for Sime Vrsaljko's apparent push on David Silva, when in reality the Croatian defender was himself shoved onto Silva from behind by a Spanish forward.

Sergio Ramos, a surprise first choice penalty taker for Spain, saw his short saved by Danijel Subasic, who was considerably off his line by the time Ramos tried to smash the ball home. The Referee though didn't order a retake and perhaps justice was done.

It proved to be a big save in the context of the match as Croatia showed fantastic stamina late in the game scoring through Perisic on a counter attack, which all started on their own 18 yard box courtesy a blocked shot by skipper Darijo Srna.

Nikola Kalinic carried the ball high up the field and played Perisic through down the left, and his shot from a tight angle got the slightest of deflections and surprisingly beat De Gea at his near post, with the Manchester United goalkeeper having not covered the space at all well.

The result means that Croatia will face a third placed team from Group B, E or F in the last 16, while Spain get Italy!

The other Group D game tonight saw Turkey beat Czech Republic 2-0 courtesy goals from Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan. Arsenal and Czech keeper Petr Cech was helpless to stop the first effort, but maybe could have done better with the second, again beaten at his near post, and reacting a bit too late. Truth be told though the margin of victory could have been even greater for the Turks, who created the better chances.

Tomas Sivok had a header hit the woodwork early in the first half which would have levelled the scores had the ball gone in, and the Czechs did have the greater shots on goal, but lacked that clinical precision in the final third to actually put the ball in the back of the net.

The result means that Turkey knocked the Czech Republic out of the competition, while guaranteeing Northern Ireland a place in the last 16! The Turks own fate remains in the balance, they do move ahead of Albania though on goals scored, but two places for best 4 third placed teams are already gone to Slovakia and Northern Ireland.

Also interestingly, England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France are all in the same half of the draw (the bottom section), leaving Croatia, Wales, Poland and Switzerland as four teams in the top half in what is likely to be a very interesting second half of the tournament.

Final Score:

Croatia 2-1 Spain (Morata 7', Kalinic 45', Perisic 87')

Turkey 2-0 Czech Republic (Yilmaz 10', Tufan 65')