Spain survived a nervous night in Gdansk to progress to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, but their pre-tournament status as “favourites” did not.
Stodgy, disjointed and largely impotent in front of goal, if they are to become the first team to retain this trophy, they will have to improve rapidly. On this showing, Germany are the clear frontrunners.
Vicente del Bosque’s side snatched a 1-0 win in the last moments, seizing on a moment of weakness in the Croatian back-four and ruthlessly breaking their hearts.
Spain can count themselves a little fortunate as Croatia, who would have gone through and eliminated Spain had they won, spurned one clear chance and had two penalty appeals turned down.