Football-Spain defeats Croatia in eight-goal thriller as Morata responds to criticism

Spain striker Alvaro Morata responded to vicious criticism by helping his side to a 5-3 win over Croatia after extra time on Monday to reach the Euro 2020 quarter-finals in a breathtaking game interspersed with storylines .

In the best game of the tournament so far, Spain fell behind in the first half with a goal against their side of Pedri near the halfway line after an incredible mistake by goalkeeper Unai Simon. But the three-time European champions regained their composure and were poised for a comfortable victory with goals from Pablo Sarabia, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ferran Torres.

Showing the spirit that led them to the last World Cup final, Croatia made a stunning comeback with goals from Mislav Orsic in the 85th minute and a header from Mario Pasalic in added time to force extra time. Luis Enrique’s side showed formidable character, however, and won with a superb strike from Morata in the 100th minute and a goal from Mikel Oyarzabal in the 103rd.

Spain celebrated a first knockout victory in a major tournament since Euro 2012 to set up a quarter-final against France or Switzerland in St. Petersburg on Friday. “We have suffered so much, it has been so long since we won a knockout game and we finally managed to do it against the World Cup finalists,” said Spain defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

“We conceded two goals in seven minutes, but we beat them in overtime and we deserved to qualify.” SPAIN STAND BY SIMON AFTER GAFFE

Captain Sergio Busquets also praised his team’s mentality and defended Simon, who made up for his first-half calamity with a superb save to thwart Andrej Kramaric and prevent Croatia from taking the lead at the start of the extensions. “Unai knows he has our full confidence. The goal was bad luck, but he’s got a cool head and is ambitious and he showed it today. He was super-secure after the goal and did superb. stops, “said Busquets.

“When Croatia changed their system they flooded the high pitch and we didn’t adapt quickly enough. But overall I’m very happy with the result, the way we handled extra time and the makes us into the quarter-finals. ” Croatia come home with their heads held high but still waiting to win a Euro knockout game.

Morata has been the center of attention in the Spanish campaign amid inconsistent performances and criticism from his own supporters, who took a bad turn in last week’s 5-0 win over Slovakia. His wife and children were threatened by supporters in Sevilla and he complained that he had been subjected to death threats before the game, prompting coach Luis Enrique to urge the police to act.

Morata was accused of having a fragile disposition but showed steel when Spain’s confidence was on the ground, controlling a Dani Olmo cross with one foot before soaring into the roof of the net. Substitute Oyarzabal struck moments later to increase Spain’s lead and this time Croatia had no response.

The result made them the first team of a Euro to score five or more goals in consecutive matches, with Morata joining Fernando Torres as his country’s top scorer in the competition with five goals. Pedri set an undesirable record: his own home goal at 49 meters was the longest home side goal by a Euro and the very first in the tournament outside the box.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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