Spain 3-0 Croatia: Alvaro Morata on target in statement win to start Euro 2024 campaign

Alvaro Morata opened the scoring for his country (AP)
Alvaro Morata opened the scoring for his country (AP)

Spain made a statement in their opening match at Euro 2024, as they eased to a 3-0 win over Croatia in Berlin.

The damage was done inside the first-half, with Alvaro Morata and Fabian Ruiz striking in quick succession, before Dani Carvajal put Spain in total control seconds before the break. Bruno Petkovic thought he had pulled one back late on, scoring from the rebound after his penalty was saved, but that was ruled out due to Ivan Perisic’s encroachment.

It means Luis de la Fuente’s side have already taken a major step towards qualifying from the ‘Group of Death’, with matches against Italy and Albania to come, while Croatia will still believe they can book their place in the last-16 as well, with only eight of the 24 teams exiting in the group-stage.

This was a frustrating start to Croatia’s Group B campaign, though, with the first-half goals coming when they were enjoying a positive spell. Spain had started well, dominating early on, but Croatia responded and were increasingly controlling possession and getting a foothold in the match when they fell behind.

There was an alarming amount of space straight through the middle, Ruiz playing the pass to set Morata away, and the Spanish captain made no mistake as he charged into the box and rolled a finish past Dominik Livakovic.

Within three minutes the lead was doubled, this time Ruiz on the scoresheet himself as he chopped past two challenges in the box and fired superbly into the bottom corner to put Spain in charge.

Croatia remained in the match, those Spain goals coming from their two notable attacks, but they were ruthlessly punished in first-half stoppage time, as Lamine Yamal, the youngest player to ever appear at a European Championship, whipped a cross in for Dani Carvajal to turn in from close range.

There was little sign of a Croatian comeback after the break, but they did threaten to set up a grandstand finish with ten minutes remaining when Rodri brought down Petkovic in the box. The striker got up to take the penalty himself, had his spot-kick saved by Unai Simon but scored from the rebound after Perisic had pulled the ball back into his path. However, a VAR check chalked the goal off, with replays showing Perisic had made his move into the area too early.