At summit, southern EU leaders watch World Cup on Croatian PM's mobile

By Marco Trujillo

ALICANTE, Spain (Reuters) -Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic could not hide his joy on Friday evening at a summit of EU Mediterranean countries after his country beat hot favourites Brazil on penalties to advance to the World Cup semi-finals.

In an interview with Reuters, Plenkovic said "the feeling is fantastic" and revealed he and the eight other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, had kept close tabs on the match during breaks in the summit in the Spanish city of Alicante.

"We followed a bit during the break and then everybody joined in watching the penalties on my mobile. That was a lot of fun," he told Reuters, laughing.

During a press conference at the end of the summit, Plenkovic could not hide his glee, telling reporters "this was certainly the most exciting meeting of the year, if not ever, with a particularly happy end". He was applauded by the eight other leaders standing alongside him.

"I'm more focused on what's happening at home and who should we play in the semi-finals," he said.

"On all the issues (raised at the summit's final briefing) I subscribe to everything that (Spanish Prime Minister) Pedro (Sanchez) has said. I will always cherish Alicante in my heart," he said, ending a speech that lasted only 37 seconds.

Plenkovic sang the praises of the Croatian team in the Reuters interview after the summit.

"This is a brilliant generation of Croatian players led by our captain Luka Modric... To be again in the semi-finals with the perspective that we might again end up in the final, it's a fantastic feeling," he said.

"Croatia and the Croatian people at home and across the world are in a very... good mood today."

(Reporting by Belen Carreno and Marco Trujillo in Alicante; writing by Andrei Khalip and Jessica Jones; editing by Susan Fenton and Jonathan Oatis)