Croatia's national team around star Luka Modric can hope for their first major title. The 2022 World Cup third-placed won the first semifinals of the Nations League finals against hosts the Netherlands 4-2 (2-2, 0-1) after extra time and is thus in the final on Sunday.
In Rotterdam Donyell Malen from runners-up Borussia Dortmund gave the Dutch the lead in the 34th minute. After the break, Andrej Kramaric turned the game around for the strong Croatians with a converted penalty kick (55') and Mario Pasalic (72'). But in the sixth minute of added time, Noa Lang saved the Dutchman with his goal into extra time. The Croatians fought back there and made it through to the final thanks to goals from Bruno Petkovic (98') and Modric (116', penalty kick).
In the second semi-final this Thursday (8.45 p.m. / RTL and DAZN) in Enschede, European champions Italy and Spain will play against each other. The final will then take place on Sunday (8.45 p.m. / RTL and DAZN) in Rotterdam. The German national team failed to qualify for the finals. The team of national coach Hansi Flick is testing in Poland on Friday instead.
Around 15,000 Croatian fans
After the Oranje restart under Ronald Koeman failed miserably with a 4-0 loss to France in February, Louis van Gaal's successor had made the Nations League finals a high priority. And his team, which has been significantly rejuvenated compared to the World Cup in Qatar, did not initially disappoint. Elftal took the lead through Malen about ten minutes before the break.
Driven by the approximately 15,000 Croatian fans in De Kuip, Modric and Co. turned the game around after the break. First, Oranje striker Cody Gakpo from Liverpool fouled Modric in the penalty area, completely unnecessarily, and Kramaric safely converted the penalty to equalize. A little later, Pasalic even gave the Croatians the lead.
But in the final minutes, the World Cup third-placed team let themselves be pushed too far back. Lang punished this in the sixth minute of added time and saved the Oranje team into extra time. But the Koeman team couldn't use the momentum, and the Croatians celebrated again in extra time.