Sports Desk, Jun 14 (EFE).- Croatia came from behind Wednesday to beat the Netherlands 4-2 in extra time and advance to the final of the UEFA Nations League.
Making his 165th appearance for Croatia, 37-year-old Luka Modric drew the penalty that led to the equalizer in the second half and later converted from the spot to give his team a two-goal cushion with minutes left to play.
A victory next Sunday against the winner of the second semifinal between Spain and Italy will mean a first-ever title for the 2018 World Cup runners-up.
Though they were the home side for the semifinal at De Kuip in Rotterdam, the Dutch had less of the ball and would end the 120 minutes-plus with only four corners to eight for the visitors.
Real Madrid stalwart Modric appeared to put Croatia ahead in the 24th minute with a strike into the top corner, but the 2018 Ballon d’Or saw his goal disallowed for offside.
Instead, it would be the Oranje who opened the scoring in the 34th minute courtesy of Donyell Malen and the Dutch went to the break just 45 minutes away from a spot in the final.
But 10 minutes into the second half, Modric stole the ball from Cody Gakpo in the Dutch end and the Liverpool man tugged at the midfielder’s arm.
The veteran went down immediately and the referee pointed to the spot. Andrej Kramaric beat goalkeeper Justin Bijlow to bring Croatia level.
Mario Pasalic put the Balkan team ahead in the 72nd minute with an assist from Luka Ivanusec and they looked set to close out the contest until Noa Lang equalized in the 96th minute amid a mad scramble in front of the Croatia goal.
Croatia reclaimed the lead in the 8th minute of the first extra-time, as a pass from Modric found Bruno Petkovic in front of goal and the striker made it 3-2.
Petkovic won a second penalty for Croatia in the 116th minute and Modric converted to seal the victory. EFE rmm/dr