Croatia thumped by resurgent Spain

Kristopher Nichols
September 13, 2018

Croatia, whose side contained just four of those who started the World Cup final in Moscow this July - defender Domagoj Vida and midfielders Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic - had actually started the game the stronger but now have to regroup before facing England in October.

Elche native Saul Niguez opened the night's scoring in the 24th minute with a leaping header off Dani Carvajal's long diagonal cross that bounced past Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

For whatever it's worth, the revamped Spain team looked quite sharp, using a more direct approach than the various forms of tiki-taka we have come to expect since La Roja's 2010 World Cup win.

Spain showed their remarkable potential under new coach Luis Enrique by destroying World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0 on Tuesday to hand the visitors their biggest ever defeat and take control of their Nations League group. However, it is the biggest defeat in Croatia's history, so it was a dismal day for them.

Marco Asensio was their outstanding performer with one goal - Spain's second, driven in from 25 yards - and three assists.

Croatia drew 1-1 with Portugal on Thursday night in their first game since losing to France in the final in Russian Federation, while Spain will be on home soil under new boss Luis Enrique for the first time following his appointment.

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More importantly, they are off to a winning start under Luis Enrique, with their performances in Elche and against England at Wembley a stark reminder of the quality they possess, which seemed to go missing in their tempestuous World Cup campaign.

Belgium, meanwhile, thrashed Scotland 4-0 at Hampden Park on Friday night, and have lost only one of their last 26 games, that being the World Cup semi-final to France.

The centre-back was consistently excellent in Russian Federation but was given a torrid time here.

Spain have rattled in the goals against Croatia to take charge of their Nations League group.

Three minutes before the hour mark, Sergio Ramos made it 5-0 for Spain with a simple header inside the box, following a well-weighted corner from Asensio.

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