Luis Enrique’s Spain routs Croatia in Nations League

Grant SmithSep 12, 2018

The 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia open up their UEFA Nations League campaign tonight against Spain at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero - here are the confirmed line-ups of both sides.

Tuesday's match in Elche marked ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique's first home game as Spain manager, and his second win in as many matches since taking over La Roja reins in July.

Croatia, so impressive in keeping the ball at the World Cup, lost confidence as Spain dominated possession and picked their opponents off easily, inflicting biggest defeat on the Croats after a 5-1 loss to England in a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

Marco Asensio fired in from 20 yards and then, shortly after, saw another rifled effort hit the bar and find the net via Croatia keeper Lovre Kalinic.

Ivan Santini and Ivan Perisic missed good early chances before Spain seized control 23 minutes in, as Saul headed the ball in off the turf after being picked out by Dani Carvajal's sublime cross.

"We've played against teams who got very far in the World Cup".

That proved to be the final piece of goal-mouth action as Spain claimed a second straight Nations League win.

What does it mean?

The 2010 World Cup winners slightly edge Croatia in the head-to-head record with three wins from six outings, while there has been one draw.

In his press conference on Monday, Enrique said he made a mistake by not initially calling up Aspas for the UEFA Nations League fixtures against England and Croatia. "These games are important to reach the final phase".

Ivan Rakitic, winning a 100th cap that he will want to forget, eventually ran onto a stray back-pass from Sergio Busquets but could not get enough bend on his first-time shot to sneak it inside David de Gea's post.

Three minutes before the hour mark, Sergio Ramos made it 5-0 for Spain with a simple header inside the box, following a well-weighted corner from Asensio.

Spain's next match takes place in exactly a month, when they visit Cardiff for a friendly match four days before hosting England in the Nations League.

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