‘Invincible fleet’ Spain tops national anthems 11 years after losing three straight majors

‘Invincible Fleet’ Spain takes pride in returning to the top of the national game after 11 years.

Spain lifted the 2022-23 European Football Association (UEFA) Nations League final on Monday (July 19) at the Stade Feyenoord in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, after playing Croatia to a 0-0 draw at half-time and extra time, before winning 5-4 on penalties.

It’s been 11 years since Spain has been crowned champion of a national competition since the 2012 European Football Championship (Euro 2012). Spain also avenged a runner-up finish in the 2020-21 edition of the tournament, losing to France in the final.

Spain’s recent heyday was between the late 2000s and early 2010s. They won back-to-back Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 titles, while also finishing on top of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

After finishing runners-up at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and third at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Croatia had to stop short of the title once again. Croatian star Luka Modric, who is in the twilight of his career, 안전놀이터 had to swallow his disappointment once again.

Spain was slightly more aggressive, but possession was even. Spain had 21 shots on goal, which is not good. Only two were on target. Croatia, on the other hand, was more efficient, with five of their 12 shots on goal. Spain was threatened by shots from Marco Asensio and Fabian Luis. The closest they came was late in the second half when Ansu Pati’s shot was blocked by the Croatian physical defense. Ivan Perisic’s header was sharp for Croatia, and both teams had a few chances in the box but lacked the finishing touch.

Extra time also ended scoreless, leading to penalty kicks. Both teams made it to the third round of kicks. Spain took the lead when goalkeeper Unai Simon saved a shot from Croatia’s fourth kicker, Lobro Mayer, but Amarik Laporte missed the fifth to level the score.

The game was decided on the sixth kick. Spain roared to victory when Dani Carvajal calmly slotted home the game-winner after Simone saved again from Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic.

Meanwhile, in the third-place match, Italy edged out the Netherlands 3-2 in a nail-biter to claim third place.

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