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Croatia into UEFA Nations League final after beating Netherlands in thriller

Croatia into UEFA Nations League final after win over the Netherlands

Croatia has reached the final of the UEFA Nations League after beating the Netherlands in a six-goal thriller in Rotterdam on Wednesday night.

A large contingent of Croatian fans, who were phenomenal all night, were on hand at the De Kuip stadium to witness and guide the team to yet another remarkable come-from-behind extra-time victory.

With Joško Gvardiol ruled out through injury, coach Zlatko Dalić handed a rare start to 34-year-old Domagoj Vida. He also favoured Ivan Perišić in his unaccustomed left-back position, whilst Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Luka Ivanušec was handed a start. 

The opening half an hour was a tight affair with both sides enjoying possession at time but unable to fashion any clear chances. 

The home side, however, would break the deadlock in the 34th minute. Donyell Malen would collected the ball inside the box from a Mats Wieffer pass and beat Domagoj Livaković to his right to make it 1-0. 

After the break, with the crowd in full voice behind them, Croatia looked urgent to get back into the match and Andrej Kramarić would come close with a shot from just outside the box.

Croatia would get back level in the 55th minute when Cody Gakpo fouled Modrić inside the box and Kramarić would step up and calmly slot his penalty down the middle to make it 1-1.

Croatia began to look a lot more dangerous as the second half went on with Modrić and Mateo Kovačić combing as they are know to, and it was no surprise they would take the lead for thee first time win the match in the 72nd minute. 

Ivanušec would steal the ball in the Dutch box and pick out Mario Pašalić who would guide the ball into the back of the net with his left foot with three defenders around him to make it 2-1.

Croatia would valiantly defend in the dying stages of the match, but with the Netherlands throwing everyone forward, including the keeper, they would snatch a last second winner in the 96th minute when Lang found a way through a crowded box with a volley to send the match into extra-time.

Croatia would re-gain the lead in the 99th minute when Luka Modrić fed substitute Bruno Petković and he would shake off his man before unleashing a great strike into the bottom corner to make it 3-2. 

Both sides had chances in the second half of extra-time, including Pašalić hitting he crossbar, but this time there was no comeback from the Netherlands as Petković would win a penalty for Croatia which Modrić would convert to make it 4-2.

Croatia now await the winner of thee second semifinal between Spain and Italy on Sunday. 

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