Croatia win group by beating holders Spain

Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:08pm EDT
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By Steve Tongue

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Holders Spain lost for the first time in 15 matches at the European Championship finals on Tuesday when Croatia beat them 2-1 to win Group D at Euro 2016.

Ivan Perisic scored the winner with three minutes left after Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic had saved a penalty from Spain captain Sergio Ramos with 20 minutes remaining.

Croatia's Nikola Kalinic had cancelled out an early goal from Spain striker Alvaro Morata in the first half.

Spain meet Group E winners Italy in a heavyweight last-16 tie on Monday in Paris -- a rematch of the 2012 final -- while Croatia will play one of the third-placed teams in Lens on Saturday.

"Now we will face a more difficult rival than had we finished first in our group," Ramos said.

Spain's path suddenly looks more perilous. Not only do Italy stand in the champions' way in the round of 16. World champions Germany are then potential quarter-final opponents while hosts France and England also lie in wait as possible semi-final opposition.

"We are disappointed," conceded Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. "The path now might be seen as more difficult, but you never know where the danger is."

Kalinic's goal just before the break was the first goal conceded by Spain in 948 minutes of European Championship matches since October 2014.   Continued...

Football Soccer - Croatia v Spain - EURO 2016 - Group D - Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France - 21/6/16
Croatia's Ivan Perisic celebrates after scoring their second goal with teammates
REUTERS/Regis Duvignau