Much-maligned Morata the hero for Spain in Croatian thriller

Much-maligned Morata the hero for Spain in Croatian thriller

Monday, June 28, 2021 11:43 pm

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata answered his critics in the best possible manner on Monday with a crucial extra-time goal as Spain triumphed 5-3 over Croatia in a classic Euro 2020 fixture.

Morata, on loan at Juventus, had received substantial abuse and threats on social media for his attacking performances as Spain struggled to impose themselves on the competition.

But he coolly collected Dani Olmo’s deep cross in the 100th minute of the last 16 encounter to lash a high shot into the net.

The goal helped to tilt the tie in Spain’s favour and Mikel Oyarzabal settled matters just three minutes later.

Spain had been comfortably on course for victory in regulation time.

Goals from Pablo Sarabia, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ferran Torres had overturned a comical long-distance own goal from teen sensation Pedri which had given Croatia the lead.

Mislav Orsic scrambled a second for Croatia in the 85th minute and then crossed for Mario Pasalic to head in the equaliser in added time’s second minute to force extra-time.

Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon atoned for his first goal error by saving from Andrej Kramaric as Croatia turned the screw.

But Morata and Oyarzabal made no mistake to earn the three-time continental champions a date with the later winners of France vs Switzerland in Friday’s St Petersburg quarter-final.

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