Spain beat Croatia in penalties to clinch UEFA Nations League title

By India Today Sports Desk: Spain won the Nations League in Rotterdam on Sunday, beating Croatia 5-4 in a penalty shootout thanks to right back Dani Carvajal's decisive spot-kick. The 31-year-old, who has five Champions League titles with Real Madrid, calmly chipped home Spain's sixth kick of the shootout to give the country its first silverware since the European Championship in 2012.

The final at the Feyenoord Stadium ended goalless after extra time, and defeat on penalties was heartbreaking for Croatia, who finished second in the 2018 World Cup and third in Qatar last year but have yet to win a title.

In the shootout, Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon first saved from Lovro Majer, giving Aymeric Laporte a chance to win, but the defender blasted his effort against the crossbar, leaving the score at 4-4 after five kicks each. Simon came up trumps again, this time from Bruno Petkovic, before Carvajal sealed the victory.

"It was a very tight match, we knew we weren't going to win easily," said Simon.

Spain finished second in the Nations League to France two years ago, and success will be a major boost after a disappointing World Cup in Qatar, where they were upset by Morocco in the last-16.

After stealing possession from Croatia, Spain should have opened the scoring in the 12th minute, but Gavi dragged his shot wide.

In the 23rd minute, a long ball from deep in Croatia's half caught out Spain's high defensive line, allowing Andrej Kramaric a breakaway chance, but Laporte chased back to make a superb tackle.

In the second half, Croatia's Ivan Perisic broke down the left flank and provided an inviting cross that Mario Pasalic missed, and Josip Juranovic followed with a wild effort that went well wide of the goal.

When Spain substitute Ansu Fati came on, he added energy to their cause, and he had a chance to win the game in the 84th minute when Rodri set him up for a close-range shot, but Perisic was on the line to clear with keeper Dominik Livakovic beaten.

In extra time, Spain's Nacho made another goal-saving tackle to deny Majer, while Dani Olmo blasted over the bar from inside the opposing penalty area.

Spain finished the two-hour match strongly, as Dani Olmo had another chance and Rodri's shot was deflected just wide.

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