It took all of 92 minutes but World Cup finalists, Croatia exacted their revenge on Spain with a last minute winner from the debutant, Tin Jedvaj, and inflicted on Luis Enrique’s Spain their first back-to-back loss in nearly three years.
Spain may thus lose out on the leadership of Group 4 of League A of the new UEFA Nations League to England or Croatia, depending on the result between those two countries on Sunday.
The Croats had been thrashed 6-0 by Spain in September but Croatia played with heart to record the slim win at the death.
Andrej Kramaric put Croatia ahead after Ivan Perisic cut out a pass and headed into his path. Kramaric finished low past David de Gea. But Spain were level just two minutes later as Dani Ceballos started and finished a well-worked move from midfield.
Jedvaj then put the hosts ahead with a close header after a neat cross from Luka Modric, though it was shambolic defending on the part of the Spaniards that created the chance.
Sime Vrsaljko was adjudged to have handled the ball – a call that could be termed harsh, as he did not move his arm towards the awkward bouncing ball. Sergio Ramos easily sent Lovre Kalinic the wrong way.
But after some tetchy moments – one of which saw Sergio Busquets and Ivan Perisic both yellow carded, Jedvaj got on the end of a rebound to score the winner.
Spain currently top the group with six points, with England and Croatia on four points each. The winner on Sunday will top the group but in the event of a draw, England will finish second and Croatia will be relegated.