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Russia 2018 runners up, Croatia humiliated in Spain as Rakitic joins centurions’ club

By Chidera Akalonu
It was a bad night for Russia 2018 runners up Croatia Tuesday night in Spain as the young nation suffered their biggest defeat in history losing 6-0 to Spain.
The Uefa Nations League qualifier decided at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero in Elche was one in which Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic used to become an international centurion.
Marco Asensio scored once and set up four more in Luis Enrique’s second match in charge, just three days after the Spaniards had beaten England 2-1 at Wembley.
Speaking before the game Rakitic said it was fitting for him to reach the milestone against Spain, having played in La Liga since 2011.
“I remember how I could hardly wait my first appearance for Croatia,” he said. “Today, 11 years later, I can hardly wait my hundredth.
“It’s incredible, I’m so happy and proud, and I could not have wished a better opponent. However, it will not be a real celebration for me without team success. We have to fight.”
Rakitic is the eighth Croatia player to reach 100 appearances, after Dario Simic, Vedran Corluka, Ivica Olic, Josip Simunic, Stipe Pletikosa, Luka Modric and Darijo Srna.
Srna is their most-capped player of all time on 134, but at just 30 years of age, Rakitic can harbour realistic hopes of overtaking that record in the near future.
Tuesday night marked the first game of Croatia’s Nations league campaign, while Spain went into the match fresh off the back of a well-earned 2-1 victory against England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
Goals from Saul Niguez and Rodrigo gave the visitors the three points after Marcus Rashford opened the scoring for Gareth Southgate’s men.

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