Croatia stun hosts Netherlands to reach Nations League final


Captain Luka Modric and rest of the Croatia players celebrate victory during the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 semifinal match between Netherlands and Croatia at De Kuip on June 14, 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Bruno Petkovic and Luka Modric struck in extra time to beat the Netherlands 4-2 in their Nations League semi-final in Rotterdam on Wednesday and advance to Sunday’s decider.

Zlatko Dalic’s side, who ranked third at last year’s World Cup, moved a step closer to earning their first ever trophy and demonstrated once again they are extra-time specialists.

Real Madrid’s 37-year-old Modric won a penalty for Croatia’s opening goal, Andrej Kramaric and Mario Pasalic netted in the second half after Donyell Malen sent the Dutch ahead, but Noa Lang snatched a 96th-minute equalizer to force an additional half hour.

Substitute Petkovic curled home a stunning shot from the edge of the penalty area eight minutes into extra time to put them on their way and Modric made sure of Croatia’s triumph with a late penalty, their second of the game.

Croatia have only suffered one defeat in their last 16 matches, to World Cup winners Argentina, and quashed the Netherlands’ bid to win their first competition since the 1988 European Championship.

With Modric edging closer to the end of a stellar career, Dalic was hopeful he would be able to call on the playmaker for some time to come.

“He can be the one to help us win the gold medal,” Dalic told reporters, before addressing Modric’s future.

“Luka will decide for himself after the finals, but with him we are way better, we have far more quality.”

Croatia will play either Italy or Spain, who face off in the second semi-final in Enschede on Thursday.

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