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Late winner secures quarter-final spot for Spain

Croatia 0-1 Spain

Substitute Jesus Navas grabbed a late winner to send Spain through to the quarter-finals as Group C winners.

Fernando Torres sent his header wide from a corner in the fourth minute, then David Silva's pass found Andres Iniesta in the box, but his weak shot was comfortably saved by Stipe Pletikosa.

On 22 minutes Torres created a chance for himself with a good run and near post strike that was blocked by Pletikosa, then Pletikosa saved a Sergio Ramos long range strike relatively comfortably and Gerard Pique sent a shot well over.

Croatia responded and in the 25th minute and a low near post strike by Danijel Pranjic was held by Iker Casillas, before Croatian penalty appeals were waved away for a foul by Ramos on Mario Mandzukic. 

Silva failed to capitalise on a couple of half chances late in the first half, then after the break Iniesta sent a pass through for Torres, who was denied by Pletikosa's quick reactions.

Breakaway

A great breakway burst down the right by Luka Modric almost set up a goal for Croatia. He cut inside and flicked a superb ball in towards the far post with the outside of his right boot, but the unmarked Ivan Rakitic could only head straight at Casillas, who was able to make a save.

Xavi's corner was header over by Ramos, then Spain were a little aggrieved when Pique was flattened in the Croatia box by a stray elbow.

Croatia created another half chance at the other end, then substitute Ivan Perisic attempted a volley at the far post but did not connected properly and sent the ball into the stand. 

A shot from substitute Cesc Fabregas was blocked, but with Italy ahead against the Republic of Ireland in the other Group C game, a goal at this stage could have knocked Spain out, and Casillas did well to keep out a Perisic strike. 

Sergio Busquets was presented with an opportunity only to be crowded out in the box, then Iniesta's low strike was kept out by Pletikosa at the near post and he blocked a Fabregas effort soon after as Spain pushed for a late winner. 

Navas settled Spanish nerves in the 88th minute, as he slotted in from close range after a cross from the left. 

Croatia: Pletikosa, Vida, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Vukojevic, Rakitic, Srna, Modric, Pranjic, Mandzukic. Subs: Kelava, Simunic, Buljat, Jelavic, Badelj, Vrsaljko, Dujmovic, Kalinic, Kranjcar, Perisic, Eduardo, Subasic.

Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Torres, Iniesta. Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Fabregas, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.

By Mark Roach

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