Euro 2012: Navas scores for Spain, Croatia bow out
Defending champions Spain made the quarter-finals after substitute Jesus Navas hit the late winner in their 1-0 victory over Croatia, who bowed out.
Defending champions Spain made the quarter-finals after substitute Jesus Navas hit the late winner in their 1-0 victory over Croatia, who bowed out. (All AFP and AP Images)
Andres Iniesta passed to Navas inside the area after Spain broke through an offside trap, and the substitute forward kicked the ball into an empty net in the 88th minute.
Spain were rewarded for their possession and passing when Navas converted to keep the World Cup champions' bid at becoming the first nation to win three straight major championships going.
Mario Mandzukic, who has scored three goals for Croatia, had trouble getting free.
Croatia could have reached the last eight with a victory but Iker Casillas made a reflex save on Ivan Rakitic's header in the 59th minute before punching out substitute Ivan Perisic's low volley in the 79th.
Casillas, who recorded his 76th shutout in his 134th appearance, was Spain's steadiest player in defense as the backline was often troubled in the second half by balls into the box.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque started with Fernando Torres for the second straight game. The striker exited for Navas in the 61st minute.
Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic who came on as a substitute received a yellow card.
As if the early exit wasn't enough, Croatian Federation can expect to face UEFA's wrath after its fans lit flares in both halves.
The match was even halted briefly when Croatian fans lit flares in the first half.
Croatian coach Slaven Bilic had every reason to feel aggrieved after his team crashed out despite drawing with Italy and hammering Ireland 3-1.