OFFICIAL | Fabian Ruiz Dazzles as Spain Open Euro 2024 Campaign With Dominant 3-0 Victory Over Croatia

Goals from Morata, Fabian Ruiz and Dani Carvajal lifted Spain to a comfortable 3-0 win against Croatia in Berlin.

Story of the match

For the fourth consecutive European Championship, Spain faced Croatia.

With a 3-1 record, history and form favoured Spain.

Spain had lost only once since March 2023, a friendly against Colombia, whilst Croatia put in unconvincing performances against Armenia, Wales and Turkey in the last six months.

In Berlin, both sides set up attacking 4-3-3 formations as they opened their 2024 European Championship campaign.

Spain’s Lamine Yamal made history in the front three as the Barcelona striker became the youngest player in a European Championship.

12 years his senior, Luke Modrić made his 176th appearance in Croatia’s midfield.

Modrić played in his first FIFA World Cup before Yamal was born.

While Croatian fans filled most of the Olympiastadion, Spain dominated the first half.

Morata had the first chance of the game in the seventh minute but his shot was easily saved by Dominik Livakovic.

For the opening 20 minutes, Spain had around 60% possession.

Their pressure finally told in the 29th minute.

A lovely through-ball by Fabian Ruiz dissected the Croatia defence, allowing Morata to take one touch, shifting the ball onto his left foot, before calmly sliding the ball past Livakovic with his second touch from 18 yards.

It was Morata’s 15th goal for Spain since 2021.

Two minutes later, Spain were in dreamland as Fabian Ruiz doubled their lead.

Ruiz picked up the ball on the edge of the box and danced through the Croatia defence before sliding the ball through Josip Sutalo’s legs and into the bottom-right corner.

Croatia had their chances.

A minute after the first goal, Kovacic wasted an effort on the edge of the box that Unai Simon smothered.

A minute after the second, Simon did well to save from Brozovic low to his left.

Croatia’s best chance came in the 42nd minute.

A Modrić cross was met by Josko Gvardiol who sent it back across the six-yard box towards Budimir at the back-post.

The Croatian forward stretched but was unable to make the vital touch, with the ball flashing past the post.

Dani Carvajal showed Croatia how to score in first half added time.

A delightful curling cross from Yamal on the right found Carvajal, who needed only one touch to deflect the ball past Livakovic.

Spanish fans were dancing in the stands as the first-half came to a close.

Croatia were relieved, their defence had been chasing shadows.

They were still chasing shadows early in the second half.

In the 52nd minute, Pedri set up Yamal in the box but Livakovic pulled off a spectacular save to tip the shot wide for a corner.

Morata nearly scored from the resulting corner but his effort at the front post was inches wide.

Croatia were nearly back in the game a minute later.

Kovacic cut the ball back from the left byline and chaos ensued as first Stanisic, then Budimir and finally Kramaric were denied by Simon.

Croatia thought they had finally found a way past Simon with ten minutes to go.

Rodri fouled substitute, Bruno Petkovic, awarded Croatia a penalty.

Simon saved the penalty low to his right but Petkovic scored the rebound, only for VAR to rule out the goal from Croatia encroaching into the box.

It proved to be the final action of note as Spain controlled possession and passed their way around Croatia to a memorable victory.

For Croatia, they have two more games against Italy and Albania to find form and limp their way through to the knock-out stages.

For Spain, they are in the driving seat.

Player of the Match: Fabian Ruiz

The PSG midfielder was a magician at the heart of Spain’s midfield.

As creator for the first goal, Fabian weighted a beautiful through-ball for Morata that the Spain Captain only needed two touches.

Croatia’s defence was wide open but Fabian masterfully dissected it.

Fabian was creator-turned-goalscorer for the second.

With little room to manoeuvre on the edge of the box, Fabian created space with a cruyff term to deceive Modrić, shifted the ball back onto his left for an extra yard, and fired low into the bottom corner to cap off a wonderful moment of brilliant.

It was a performance to savour for Fabian Ruiz.

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