Croatia thumped by resurgent Spain

Asensio then laid on three more goals in the second half as Rodrigo Moreno, Sergio Ramos and Isco completed a statement victory in Elche.

Sept 12 ― Luis Enrique described it as the flawless start after Spain backed up their win over England with a 6-0 demolition of Croatia yesterday.

Croatia, which lost the World Cup final to France, fell apart after defender Sime Vrsaljko had to be substituted due to an injury just minutes before Spain's first goal.

Playing in a small venue in Elche - a site that rarely gets to host Spanish national team games - should confer the hosts a more significant, more intimidating home-field advantage than the usual atmosphere of a pseudo-friendly game played in the larger, cavern-like stadiums.

The two nations are facing each other for the seventh time, with Croatia taking the last meeting - a 2-1 win at Euro 2016.

The hosts soon increased their lead with two thumping strikes from Marco Asensio, the second of which was given as an own goal to Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic as it bounced off him after crashing against the crossbar.

Spain have rattled in the goals against Croatia to take charge of their Nations League group.

Spain followed its gritty 2-1 win against England at Wembley Stadium last week with a 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia on Tuesday, keeping Enrique flawless since taking over as La Roja's coach. Croatia and England are both pointless after one game.

The visitors actually started brightly and the story of the match could have been very different had they taken one of three golden opportunities inside the opening 20 minutes.

Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago Alcantara all had chances to extend the scoreline, but the defence and Kalinic were able to keep them out and avoid making it even more embarrassing. Spain was eliminated during the round of 16 of the World Cup, losing to Russian Federation on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Belgium began with nine of the players who started the World Cup third-place playoff win against England in Russian Federation, with the injured Kevin De Bruyne replaced by Dries Mertens.

  • Stacy Allen