Spain hammer sorry Croatia
Enrique gave starts to Dani Ceballos and Jose Luis Gaya, as well as Marco Asensio in a decision that proved to be inspired while Ivan Rakitic has had a special night soured by a poor result.
The Barcelona midfielder made his 100th appearance in a Croatia shirt, joining an illustrious list including Luka Modric, who also started on the night as he continues his quest for the Ballon d’Or. Unfortunately for the duo, the game was over as a contest by half time.
Saul Ninguez put Spain into the lead in front of his home crowd - he was born in Elche - with a towering header that belied his diminutive stature. The Atletico midfielder leapt high above the defender to get onto the end of Dani Carvajal’s cross and head a strong effort into the back of the net.
From this point, Asensio took over. The Real Madrid man has scored some stunning goals in his time, but his left foot was a deadly weapon during the first half.
In the 33rd minute, the ball ran to him around 20 yards out and what came next was nothing short of spectacular.
He unleashed a tracer bullet of an effort that left the goalkeeper Kalinic no chance, flying past himand into the back of the net. Three minutes later and he was at it again. Cutting in from the right, he let rip with another fierce shot off his left foot. It cannoned off the back of the post, off the back of Kalinic, and into the back of the net. It was unfortunate for Asensio, who deserved another goal just for the effort. It was worse for Kalinic, who will be credited with an own goal he could do nothing about.
They showed no signs of letting up during the second half. Rodrigo was played through after a fine pass from Asensio four minutes after the restart and there was no catching him for pace. He placed a finish past Kalninc. Sergio Ramos, captain on the night, got in on the act eight minutes later with a powerful header from a corner.
At this point, the game threatened to fizzle out with the result already clear. A host of substitutions were made as the managers rotated but Isco brought some life back with 20 minutes to go. He was found in the box by Asensio and dropped the shoulder on his defender before putting a right-footed effort into the top corner for the sixth.
The Iberians went on to create a host of chances as the game closed out, but there was little urgency in either side's performances at this rate, and why would there have been. Croatia were delighted to see the final whistle.
It marks an incredible recovery for Spain, who were desolate just two months ago, leaving the World Cup in Russia with no manager. Had they managed to beat the host country, the two sides who they would have played on the way to the final: England and Croatia. What could have been.