Spain win Nations League final on penalties


Coach Luis de la Fuente of Spain, Kepa Arrizabalaga of Spain, Dani Carvajal of Spain, Robin Le Normand of Spain, Nacho of Spain, Martin Zubimendi of Spain, Mikel Merino of Spain, Alvaro Morata of Spain, Fabian Ruiz of Spain, Gavi of Spain, Marco Asensio of Spain, Sergio Canales of Spain, Ansu Fati of Spain, David Raya of Spain, Aymeric Laporte of Spain, Yeremy Pino of Spain, Rodri of Spain, Fran Garcia of Spain, Jordi Alba of Spain, Rodrigo of Spain, Joselu of Spain, Dani Olmo of Spain, Jesus Navas of Spain and Unai Simon of Spain celebrate their victory during the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 Final match between Croatia and Spain at the De Kuip on June 18, 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Croatia missed out on their first international trophy after losing on penalties to Spain in the Nations League final.

Dani Carvajal calmly chipped home the winning effort to seal a 5-4 victory on spot-kicks after Unai Simon had saved from Bruno Petkovic.

The contest in Rotterdam had finished goalless after extra time.

It is Spain’s first international trophy for 11 years, since their victory at Euro 2012.

“We’re so happy, it was a really tough game and this is so difficult to do,” said Spain midfielder Rodri, who was named man of the match and for whom this trophy follows winning the Treble with Manchester City and scoring the winning goal in the Champions League final.

Rodri thinks this could be the start of another succession of Spanish titles, with the squad featuring several exciting young players including Gavi, Ansu Fati and Yeremy Pino.

“This generation promises a lot. We were very strong mentally. There are things to improve, but winning is always good – we have to celebrate,” he said.

Victory also means Spain become the second nation to win the World Cup, European Championship and Nations League following France, who beat the Spanish in the 2021 Nations League final.

They could have won the shootout earlier after Simon saved from Lovro Majer, only for Aymeric Laporte to slam Spain’s fifth penalty off the crossbar.

It did not matter, however, as Simon kept out the subsequent effort from Petkovic, allowing Carvajal to be the hero.

“For us it was a unique opportunity, we went out early in another tournament and today we had to take advantage,” Real Madrid defender Carvajal told Spanish broadcaster TVE.

He was referring to the 2022 World Cup, where Spain suffered a shock last-16 exit at the hands of Morocco via a shootout where they failed to score a single penalty.

Carvajal added: “We had confidence with the penalties and it went well, I knew how I was going to shoot it, and I knew I was going to be sixth. I wanted to take it ‘Panenka’ style and it went well.”

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