Spain put on a dazzling display of attacking football to overpower Croatia 3-0 in their UEFA Euro 2024 opener on Sunday evening. This thrilling victory at the Olympiastadion served as a strong statement to the rest of the contenders as La Roja aim for a record-breaking fourth European Championship title.

Álvaro Morata, Spain’s captain, broke the deadlock in the 29th minute, scoring his seventh Euros goal and moving into joint-third place on the all-time list alongside Alan Shearer and Antoine Griezmann. Just three minutes later, Fabian Ruiz added a stunning individual strike to double the lead and put Spain firmly in control.

The introduction of Lamine Yamal, a 16-year-old Barcelona starlet, added further excitement to the game. Yamal provided a brilliant assist for Dani Carvajal’s goal just before halftime, effectively sealing the contest. This made him the youngest player ever to feature in the Euros, surpassing Polish international Kacper Kozlowski’s previous record.

Croatia, despite enjoying strong support from their fans, struggled to find their rhythm. Their usually inspirational midfielder, Luka Modric, was substituted midway through the second half. Croatia now face an uphill battle to reach the knockout phase, with challenging fixtures against Albania and Italy awaiting them in Group B.

Spain’s head coach, Luis de la Fuente, deserves credit for his team’s versatile performance. The first goal showcased their trademark possession-based style, while the second goal highlighted the individual brilliance of Ruiz. The full-back Carvajal, fresh from his Champions League triumph with Real Madrid, put the game to bed with a well-taken volley just before halftime.

Yamal came close to becoming the youngest-ever Euros scorer early in the second half, but his low effort was denied by a fine save. Spain’s left-back, Marc Cucurella, also made a crucial block to deny Croatia a potential lifeline. Croatia’s substitute, Bruno Petkovic, thought he had pulled one back late on, but his tap-in from a saved penalty was ruled out by VAR for encroachment.

Overall, Spain’s performance was a testament to their hard work and versatility under De la Fuente. With a confident and efficient display, they have positioned themselves as serious contenders for the UEFA Euro 2024 title.

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