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Spain's second-half surge beats Croatia

Croatia 1-2 Spain
Luis Milla's side came from behind to open their Group B account with a win thanks to second-half goals from Thiago Alcántara and Rodri.

Croatia's Anton Maglica (left) vies for possession with Jorge Pulido of Spain
Croatia's Anton Maglica (left) vies for possession with Jorge Pulido of Spain ©Sportsfile

Spain came from behind to get their UEFA European
Under-19 Championship campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory against Croatia in Bayeux.

Luis Milla's side have failed to get beyond the group stage of this competition since their winning run in 2007 and they may have feared an opening day defeat when Franko Andrijašević put the debutants ahead against the run of play on 42 minutes. Second-half efforts from Thiago Alcántara and Rodri settled Spanish nerves, however, and earned La Roja maximum points.

Despite seeing his team sail through qualifying with a 100% record, Croatia coach Ivica Grnja insisted on caution in their Group B opener against Spain, who found it difficult to break through their opponent's 4-1-4-1 formation. The first opening of the encounter arrived on the half-hour when the industrious Sergio Canales swerved a cross to the far post for Rodri to head down at the target, Matej Delač on hand to save.

Spain dominated possession yet it was Croatia who opened the scoring with Andrijašević's flighted long-range effort stunning the crowd as it found the back of the net via the woodwork. Milla reacted by bringing on Athletic Club's Iker Muniain at half-time, the 17-year-old's pace immediately causing problems. As La Roja committed more men forward they were rewarded with an equaliser eight minutes after the restart when Alcántara fired in a Carles Planas pass.

Shortly afterwards the four-time U19 winners were ahead after another surge forward resulted in Delač palming Martín Montoya's shot straight to Rodri, who calmly finished. It almost got even better for the dominant Spain with Marc Bartra guiding a header onto the upright, but their one-goal lead ultimately proved sufficient.