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Morata 28', Fabián 31', Dani Carvajal 46'

Spain - Croatia summary: score, goals and highlights | Euro 2024

Álvaro Morata, Fabián Ruiz and Dani Carvajal scored to give Spain a comprehensive win over Croatia in their opening Group B game.

Spain vs Croatia as it happened

Spain 3-0 Croatia: match summary

Let's get it right. Croatia were not completely outclassed by Spain in this opening Group B game as the scoreline may suggest to those who weren't watching.

That said, the Spanish side – one that included the exciting young Lamine Yamal – looked to have something special, and will give those that saw them as potential tournament winners extra confidence in their view. Attacking weapons across the pitch will no doubt keep opponents guessing where the next threat will come from, and perennial winner Rodri holding everything together in the midfield. The signs are positive, but we need to see how this performance evolves in the following games.

The Morata goal didn't come at a period of Spanish dominance, but when it was quickly accompanied by a delightful Fabián strike, things started to fall into place. Carvajal latching onto a dare-you-to-miss-this cross on the first-half whistle effectively finished this as a contest and no goals were seen in the second 45. Well...

A penalty to Croatia with just over 10 minutes remaining offered a chance to make things more interesting and when Petkovic finished off the follow-up pass after an excellent Simon save, that appeared to be where we were. A goal for the hard-working Croats felt fair too. But encroachment meant it couldn't stand.

Both teams showed enough to suggest they can make it out of this group, arguably the toughest of the lot, but Spain clearly now have the three points to set them up to take top spot and an expected easier route. Much will depend on what levels are shown when Italy meet a Serie A-filled Albania in the next game. Plenty of interest remains, but De La Fuente and his boys will be getting the plaudits for the time being.


Thank you and goodbye

OK, I think I'll wrap this coverage up and will say farewell until our paths cross again.

Thank you for joining me for the game and remember that here at AS USA we've got most of your Euro 24 needs catered for, so check it out.


Spain's stopper Simón

Nice stat from Mr Chip highlighting the history made by Unai Simón.


Fabián gets MVP

A goal (a rather tasty one at that) and an assist has seen Fabián Ruiz named the man of the match.


Spain top Group B

OK, so we're only one game in but three points, three goals for and zero goals against is pretty much as ideal as Spain could have wished for.

La Roja will face the Italians on Thursday 20 June and then finish off the group against Albania on Monday 24 June.

Up next today, Italy and Albania at 3 p.m. ET.



Goals: Morata 29', Fabián 32', Carvajal 45+2'


Peep, peep, peeeeeep! The full-time whistle blows and Spain are off to the perfect start.


Spain have a late corner and the look on Carvajal's face suggests he may fancy a repeat of what he did in injury time of the first half.

The defence do a much more solid job of clearing this time and we're now winding down to the final whistle.


We'll have an extra five minutes in this match. Can Croatia grab a late consolation? It may help when deciding who finishes second or third, and if third, how they compare with others.


Spain in control and Croatia have accepted their situation.

Spain's midfielder Rodri reacts after fouling Bruno Petkovic and giving away a penalty.

Spain's midfielder Rodri reacts after fouling Bruno Petkovic and giving away a penalty. / GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Rodri's moment


When it's not your day...

Croatia must just accept that today isn't to be. The missed opportunities that would normally go in. The slightly mistimed encroachment on the penalty. Spain's clinical finishing when it mattered.

Albania and, more importantly, Italy is where Modric and co. will seal their fate.


Croatia goal disallowed

No goal! VAR had a check and because the final pass (after the save) was made by a player inside the area when the penalty was struck, it's ruled out.


Penalty saved... then scored

Petkovic steps up and it's a wonderful save from Simon.

But the Croatians follow up and Petkovic slots home from a quick pass back across goal.


Penalty to Croatia

Rodri is booked after felling Petkovic just before he taps home into the empty goal.


An extended period of the aforementioned Spanish keep-ball ends with a Dani Olmo effort. The pitch seemed to open up for him as runners dragged out some of the central defence,

The deflected shot caused no bother for a thankful Livakovic, especially as more potentially problematic passes were available.


Spain doing what Spain do best

With 20 or so minutes remaining, Spain look to be aiming to take the sting out of this game. While Croatia are still pushing hard to make something happen, the passing around the middle of the park is becoming more of a temptation from the men in red.

Keep ball is something the Spaniards are well known for, and there are few that can do it better.


A dangerous Perisic cross is the result of that extended play but Simon does well, if at the second attempt, to collect. Now those changes can happen: Oyarzabal and Merino coming on. (check the 'line-ups' tab above for all your team info needs)


There's going to be a forced change here as Morata gives 'that' look towards the bench. He hands his captain's armband to Rodrigo and trots off.

It's a chance for a few more changes here. Wait! The officials have said play should continue so...


Despite the scoreline looking very one-sided, it's worth noting that Croatia have had double figures in terms of shots, several of them being from dangerous positions.

I wouldn't be surprised to see them get one back today. Getting three would definitely surprise me.

Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric is marked by Spain's midfielder #08 Fabian Ruiz during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Spain and Croatia at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 15, 2024. (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP)


Minimal Modric magic

The Madrid magician has not had much influence on the game.


Spain survive

Too many players to mention there but Croatia really should have got onto the scoreboard. Resolute, last-ditch defending and a little fortune keeps the gap at three goals.


Livakovic denies Yamal

A well-worked break eventually creates a good opportunity for Yamal on the right side of goal but a strong hand from the Croatian goalkeeper prevents a fourth.

Clapping all round: great forward play, tremendous stop.


Gvardiol gets a powerful shot away from the corner of Spain's penalty area but there are enough red shirts filling the spaces in front of Simon's goal to prevent it getting close to him.


Spanish tails are understandably up and they don't appear to be sitting on this lead. High pressing in unison has the Croatian defence concerned and definitely shows the intent.


There are no new faces on either team but Carvajal has taken an early thump and is getting checked out. Looks like the Madrid man will be fine to continue.


Spain - Croatia: second half kicks off

Spain get the ball rolling, shooting from right to left as I look on.


The teams have finished their oranges (or whatever they have these days) and taken on the advice of their respective coaches. Let's get the second half going...


Morata being Morata


Yamal history making


Carvajal doing goals


Half-time reflections

Let's take a quick look back over the main aspects of that first half.

The first thing to note is that although Spain had been tidy enough for the opening 10 minutes or so, dominating possession and territory, they hadn't really troubled Croatia, who came back into the game. When the opening goal arrived, there was little to choose between the two teams.

But when Morata showed the composure he did to slide the ball past Livakovic, it seemed to lift the whole group, and gaps began to appear.

Spain's front three were always on their toes as soon as possession was won back in the midfield and the direct forward passes proved fruitful.

Fabián's skill and finish will be on repeat for many. It was a delight. Then what feels like a killer blow came from Carvajal's toe on the whistle. A toe was all that was needed given the quality of the ball in from Yamal.

It didn't necessarily feel like a 3-0 half, but there's a sense that this Spain side has so many weapons with which they can hurt opponents. Can they also keep it tight at the back?

What did others think?


Peeep! Half-time

Oliver blows the whistle and Spain are in dreamland. That couldn't have gone much better, and they're still not firing on all cylinders.


Spain open up the gap


Carvajal makes it three

With likely the last kick of the first half, the veteran full back meets Yamal's deliciously swung in cross to nudge it past a helpless Livakovic.

The whole move should also get credited to Williams who had previously done tremendously well to win the corner, which was taken short to the Barça teenager.


There will be two minutes added on in this first half and as that is confirmed Kovacic decides a curling effort from distance could cause Simon some serious problems. He was wrong.


How did Croatia not score?

An incredible missed opportunity for Croatia to get back into this. The ball is whipped in from the right, then back across goal from Gvardiol (not sure if cross or shot) but Budimir can't tap it home.


Concern over Pedri

A few worried faces on and off the field of play for a moment there as Pedri stayed down after a strong challenge. He's back on his feet now and appears to be moving ok. I'll keep an eye on him.


While Spanish fans are in raptures, Brozovic and Majer have just reminded those on the pitch in red that this game is far from over.

Simon was down well to save the first, then watched the second hit the side netting from a tight angle (some Croats in the stands celebrated it as a goal). An important few minutes ahead.


Fabián takes control


Fabián doubles the score

Incredible scenes here!

Initially Yamal had looked to dribble his way past the Croatian defence but when that threat died out it was teammate Fabián who took over.

Dropped a shoulder for one, skipped past another, then unleashed a sweet left-foot strike to leave Livakovic with no chance.


Morata opens Spain's Euro count


Morata opens the scoring

Almost out of nothing and Spain are ahead!

The Atlético Madrid man is sent through the middle and does brilliantly to hold off his defenders and slot calmly low past the keeper. How will this change the flow?


La Roja feeling somewhat disjointed at the moment as Williams tries to pick out Yamal coming in off the other flank. It was always going to be a big ask for the youngster to control it and sure enough it bounces off his foot and out.

Croatia can only be growing in confidence.


Budimir header off target

The early push from Spain has levelled off in the last 10 minutes and Croatia now giving as good as they're getting, which, to be fair, isn't that much.

A very tempting cross from the right saw Budimir win the battle near the penalty spot but there was enough pressure on him to see his header fly harmlessly wide.


The great Modric

Nothing of note from the Madrid legend after 20 minutes.


Despite my previous comment, the Croatian faithful have just had a moment worthy of a little excitement. At least before the free-kick was played into the area by Majer. In the end it failed to make it into the danger area and was easily cleared.


Words not noise

If you were just listening to the crowd noise and basing your understanding of what was happening on that, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Croatia had just carved their opponents apart and missed opening the scoring by millimeters.

What actually raised the volume was a simple long ball forwards which encouraged Simon to leave his goal area and head out for a throw in. Excited, them Croats are.


Croatia continue to defend in their final third and a slightly laboured pull back from Pedri is all that prevents him from getting a shot away after creating the space for himself.

Le Normand battles Budimir

Alberto Estévez / EFE

Le Normand battles Budimir


A rash clearance attempt by Sutalo takes Morata out about 30 yards from Croatia's goal... and Williams fancies his chances. In the end the ball lifted in caused zero issues for Livakovic and there's a chance for everyone to catch their breath.

It's been a dominant start from the Spanish.


Morata tests Livakovic

That's the first shot! The Spanish frontman controls and fires goalwards with his left foot but the big keeper was quickly down to catch without too much bother.

As the move developed, it actually looked a whole lot more promising before it reached Morata. These decisions are going to be key.


The first proper threat, albeit not leading to an actual shot at goal, is created by Pedri, taking over from Carvajal in the inside right channel. The young Barça man finds Fabián at the edge of the area who tries to return it but the space quickly disappeared. Neat enough.


Spain maintain the ball for the first couple of minutes, teasing down the right, then back and trying on the left. Some neat footwork from Williams created a little buzz of excitement but the checked shirts of Croatia were quick to smother the threat.


Peeep! Spain-Croatia is live

Croatia kick off and immediately fire long. Possession is with Spain and you may hear that a lot from me.


OK, it's almost time. The players are having a few final words and hugs with each other before Michael Oliver, the English referee today, gets us going.


Spanish anthem hums

As you may know, the Spanish national anthem is just music. No words. And that's it over.

Find out more about why if you're interested.


Anthem time: Croatia

Lijepa naša domovino rings out around the stadium. The title simply meaning "Our Beautiful Homeland". And that was a beautiful rendition.


Teams in the tunnel

The two sets of players, along with young mascots in hand, are now in the tunnel and readying themselves to head out. Nervous anyone?


Take a bow, son

Nothing says football royalty better than a bow tie, and this fan appears to be very aware of some of the stars that are about to take to the field.

Euro 2024: what happens if there is a tie in the group stage? Tie-breaking criteria

As per the normal rules, a win in the group stage is worth three points, a tie gets a single point and there is nothing for a loss. 

Once all the games have been competed, the places in the table are known, but clearly there is a very good chance that teams could have the same number of points.

I thought you may want to know how UEFA determines the order so knocked out this quick summary for you.


Euro 24 Group B

As you can see from the, currently blank, table here, the other teams competing to make it to the round of 16 are Italy and Albania.

The reigning champions kick off their campaign against the perceived minnows of the group at 9 p.m. local time in Germany tonight, which is 3 p.m. ET / 12 noon PT.


The stage for today's clash

The 75,000-capacity Olympiastadion is the setting for today's big-name clash.

Spain vs Croatia live

Annegret Hilse / REUTERS

Madrid links

With Real Madrid links strong, it's been nice to see the likes of Joselu, Carvajal and Nacho embracing opposing captain Modric in the warm-up.

That friendly nature will be turned off soon, at least for a couple of hours.

Spain vs Croatia live

Fabrizio Bensch / REUTERS

Fans, fans and more fans

"Since our first day here, it has been magical, seeing so many young people, young fans, and Croatia jerseys," said Ante Budimir ahead of this game. 

"I don't even want to think how it will be when we kick off in Berlin. Bring it on. We know the support we have from our people and we are truly grateful. We cannot wait for the Euros to start and to enjoy it."

Our man in Germany today couldn't agree more.


Yamal makes history

Are you sitting there, mulling over the line-ups and thinking to yourself that the youngster that has shone for Barcelona in the last year must be pretty close to being the youngest player ever to debut in a European Championship for Spain?

Well, you'd be right. Lamine Yamal rewrites the record books at just 16 years and 338 days. Thoughts already turning to him potentially scoring too and adding to the history making.


Croatia's team

Zlatko Dalic has his own plan. And we're around 40 minutes away from finding out which one gets going better.


Spain's team

Here's another look at what Luis de la Fuente believes can get his nation cheering.


Modric: Madrid's champion

Obviously many eyes – including those of Spain's defenders – will be on Real Madrid's Luka Modric. Croatia’s captain was highlighted by La Roja's Rodrigo.

“Everything runs through him, you have to keep a close eye on him.”

The good news for the Man City midfielder is that despite success with Madrid, Modric hasn't done so well in this fixture.


Know your enemy

A nice moment there ahead of the game as Dani Olmo, who previously starred for Dinamo Zagreb, greeted several Croatian players, including Perisic, Sosa, and Pjaca.


Spain vs Croatia: substitutions

If things are not going to plan, here's who the respective managers can turn to:

Spain: Raya, Remiro, Grimaldo, Jesús Navas, Vivian, Zubimendi, Mikel Merino, Fermín López, Baena, Ferran Torres, Ayoze, Dani Olmo, Oyarzabal y Joselu.

Croatia: Ivusic, Labrovic, Erlic, Sosa, Vida, Juranovic, Ivanusec, Marco Pasalic, Sucic, Mario Pasalic, Baturina, Perisic, Pjaca, Vlasic y Petkovic.


Croatia starting XI:

Livakovic; Stanisic, Sutalo, Pongracic,Gvardiol; Modric, Kovacic, Majer, Brozovic; Kramaric, Budimir


Spain's starting XI:

Unai Simón; Carvajal, Le Normand, Nacho, Cucurella; Pedri, Rodri, Fabián; Lamine Yamal, Morata, Nico Williams


It looks as though we have the team news coming in. First up, Spain...

Who won the last European Championship and which country has the most titles?

Italy, as you may know, start off as the defending champions. The Azzurri lifted the Henri Delaunay Trophy at Euro 2020 which was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At Wembley of all places, Italy claimed their second title, denying England their first.

But did you know that there are two teams that share the most Euro titles in history? We took a trip down memory lane to reflect on the glories of Germany and, today's participants, Spain.


Has Spain or Croatia ever won the Euros?

Coming into this tournament, the furthest Croatia has ever reached has been the quarter-finals. They did this both in 1996 and 2008.

Spain, on the other hand, have been crowned Kings of Europe on three occasions. The first came back in 1964, and the other two (2008 and 2012) were part of an incredible few years for the nation as they also won the 2010 World Cup in between.


Croatia form guide

For their part, the Croatian team hasn't tasted defeat since the 2-1 loss to Wales in qualifying, last October.

In recent games they've beaten the likes of Portugal and Egypt in friendlies and although some of their bigger stars are coming to the end of their careers, they will hope to go out with a bang.


Spain form guide

Spain have won three of their last five (drawing with Brazil and losing to Colombia in recent friendlies) although we can go back further and say they've not lost competitively since the 2-0 defeat in Scotland during qualification for the Euros.

That was back in March 2023 and they've knocked in barrage of goals against many teams since.


Croatia's familiar face for Spain

As happens in international tournaments, players that are seen week-in-week out in domestic action swap shirts for their country. Croatian striker Ante Budimir has netted 16 goals this past season in LaLiga for Osasuna, and he could prove to be real danger to Spain’s defence. He did in fact score in Croatia's most recent friendly against Portugal.

How much of the ball he'll get to feed on, however, is a bigger question.


How do Spain usually start the Euros?

La Roja, as the Spanish national team is known, has proven itself nearly unbeatable in their European Championship openers.

Spain has lost only once in their initial game of this continental tournament and that occurred at Euro 2000 when Norway surprised José Antonio Camacho’s team in Rotterdam.

A goal by Iversen in the 65th minute, following a minor error by goalkeeper Molina, secured the victory for the Scandinavians. That year, the Spaniards went on to top the group (beating both Yugoslavia and Slovenia) and reached the quarter finals, going out to France with goals from Zidane and Djorkaeff cancelling Mendieta's penalty.

Germany - Scotland summary: score, goals, highlights | Euro 2024

In case you missed the opening game, here's how our Will told the story of the German victory. It's fair to say that while the 200,000 or so Scottish fans turned up in style, the players are yet to arrive.


Euro 2024: Spain vs Croatia welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Spain vs Croatia as Group B gets into action. The tournament got going on Friday with top seeds, and hosts, picking up an impressive 5-1 win over a rather hapless Scotland, and Spain will be hoping to get off to an equally dominant start... although the Croatian team is likely to put up a more testing challenge.

Stay with me as I build up to kick off and then throughout the game until we hear the final whistle. Let's go...

Calum Roche