The cheered Luka Modric stroll when at the end of the warm-up passed in front of the background occupied by the inflamed Croatian fans corroborated what the streets of Copenhagen announced. The Spain of Luis Enrique was measured to a group of footballers who play with the flag in the mouth. At night and in the hours before the meeting, there was no terrace on which the red and white squares that make up the Croatian flag did not twinkle. “Luka, Luka!”, The Croats shouted to cheer their icon, to which part of the lyrics of the national anthem seemed composed for his figure and for the comeback that led to the extension; “Cradle of old glories / may you be forever lucky / as long as there is a living heart that beats!”
Fortunate was Croatia when Unai Simón couldn’t control a single back pass from Pedri. By then, Koke and Morata had already wasted the opportunity to have put Spain ahead. Without having left their field, the Croatian internationals found themselves celebrating a goal. The classic silence before an inconsequential play such as a simple assignment to a goalkeeper reigned at the Parken Stadion. Pedri’s pass, for the distance (44.8 meters, the furthest own goal in a European Championship), carried a medium strength. Unai Simón was betrayed by the goalkeepers’ habit of not looking at the ball in such situations, forgetting that behind them there is no one to stop their mistake. He wanted to execute the control and the pass and the previous little bounce overcame the inside of his right boot so that the ball ran without remedy towards the goal. “We are all with Unai. The important thing is to rebuild, because in football these things happen and more if something like Unai happens. He has a very strong mentality, he is ambitious, but calm ”, reflected the captain, Sergio Busquets, voted best player of the match.
Had it been decisive on the scoreboard, the error would have sneaked Unai Simón into the history of the national team through the same door through which Cardeñosa entered with his sung missed goal against Brazil in the 78 World Cup, Platini’s meek shot that slipped under the belly of Arconada in the final of Euro 84 or the low center that Zubizarreta was introduced in the 1994 World Cup against Nigeria. “Mistakes are part of football and you can see more in goalkeepers. We trust Unai ”, added Mikel Oyarzabal, author of the fifth goal that closed the scoring.
Shortly after the ruling, Croatia leaked a ball that Unai Simón swept to the edge of the area. Luis Enrique cheered him, fist raised, as if it were a goal. “Soccer is a sport of successes and mistakes, Unai has taught his teammates and all professional soccer players a lesson. We value the attempts, and he has returned to play with his foot as we asked him. He has a lot of personality and I am very happy for him and for his family ”, praised an euphoric Luis Enrique.
Sarabia’s goal must have been a relief for Athletic’s goal. When the referee signaled the end of the first half, David de Gea waited for his competitor in the center of the field and encouraged him to the dressing room tunnel. In the return, football, in its own way, granted a double revenge to the Spanish goalkeeper. The second goal was started by him in the classic play with which Spain tries to attract its rivals. Unai Simón played with courage a pass to Laporte that broke the Croatian pressure. The City center-back threw Azpilicueta and Azpilicueta, before starting a run to the opposite area to head the 1-2, cleared the play to the other side. Then, he would play a couple more balls in similar risk situations that reinforced Luis Enrique’s theory that his personality is what has led him to the starting position. With a foot stop to Gvardiol and another miraculous to Budimir at the start of extra time. In the latter, he even inherited the status of miracle keeper from Iker Casillas. Recomposed, from hero to villain when the game ended, he gave the shirt to the Spanish fans behind a background while his teammates threw themselves at him to consecrate him as one of the heroes of the game.
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