Tin Jedvaj's extraordinary double saw Croatia blow their Nations League pool wide open with a 3-2 win against Spain on Thursday, setting up a make-or-break clash with England.
The World Cup finalists endured a miserable start to their Group 4 campaign in League A - thrashed by Spain in the reverse fixture and drawing with England - but they now head to Wembley in contention for a Finals place after an incredible finish in Zagreb.
A tame first half was followed by a frantic second as Croatia were twice pegged back by a rampant Spain side, Dani Ceballos levelling after Andrej Kramaric's opener, before a Sergio Ramos penalty cancelled out Jedvaj's first international goal.
But the Croatia full-back ensured his side would not be denied, lashing in a rebound in the dying seconds to keep the hosts in the running.
Spain, meanwhile, face a nervous wait after completing their group campaign, now requiring a draw between the two teams in London to reach next year's knockout stage.
David de Gea was drawn into a smart early stop, helping Ivan Perisic's deceptive low effort onto his right-hand post, but further first-half chances were sparse before Lovre Kalinic tipped away an Isco drive.
The first goal was a gift when it finally did arrive. Ramos and Sergi Roberto traded passes in the corner before Perisic intercepted an impudent flick from the latter to send Kramaric through on goal, the forward keeping his cool to finish.
Yet Spain suddenly awoke from their slumber and a flowing attacking move down the left concluded with Isco squaring for Real Madrid team-mate Ceballos to slide into the net.
Kalinic lost the ball at Iago Aspas' feet for a seemingly simple Spanish second, but the forward prodded against the crossbar and Croatia were able to go up the other end and restore their lead, Jedvaj nodding Luka Modric's teasing cross in at close range.
De Gea denied Ante Rebic on the break at one end before a frantic scramble saw Sime Vrsaljko block Alvaro Morata's on-target header at the other, although the right-back's handball allowed Ramos to convert from 12 yards out.
However, there was still time for another twist as, with Croatia throwing everyone forward, De Gea could only parry a low shot as far as Jedvaj in a crowded penalty area, allowing the 22-year-old to settle a see-saw contest.
What does it mean? Spain blow commanding position
Spain looked home and dry after impressive wins against England and Croatia, but subsequent defeats to both sides have left the 2010 world champions at the mercy of their group rivals. England will want revenge against Croatia for the semi-final defeat in Russia, while Zlatko Dalic's men will believe they can produce an unlikely comeback and qualify.
An unlikely Croatia hero
The versatile Jedvaj can play anywhere across the back line to good effect, but few would have expected him to make an impact at the other end with two goals. More attacking team-mates squandered chances either side of two assured finishes that made a hero of the young full-back.
Spain so soft at the back
Spain were torn apart by England last time out and, while Croatia were initially less proficient on the counter, there remain issues at the back. The visitors carelessly handed Croatia the lead, with Ramos shaky once again, and Croatia looked a real threat every time they came forward.
Spain face Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday in a friendly, but they must first watch England host Croatia earlier in the day. The winners go through, the losers are relegated. Spain, however, will be hoping for a draw. It is still ever so tight.
19 de mayo 2019
|De Bruyne, Neville and a rock ´n´ roll star pay tribute to captain fantastic Kompany|
|Perth Glory 0 Sydney FC 0 (aet, 1-4 on penalties): Redmayne the hero in A-League Grand Final|
|Real Madrid 0 Real Betis 2: Zidane´s men humbled in final-day defeat|
|Joshua-Wilder must be next, no excuses - Hearn|
|Trail Blazers need effort over strategy in Game 4 against Warriors - Stotts|
|Fans to receive 82 per cent of Euro 2020 tickets|
|Green: Arguing with officials made me disgusting to watch|
|Kompany appointed as Anderlecht player-manager|
|World class Kompany is Manchester City´s DNA, says Goater|
|Ponga scores stunning double as Knights thrash Dragons|
|Kompany thanks Guardiola and Manchester City team-mates after announcing departure|
|Kompany leaving Manchester City after 11 years|
|Breazeale feels referee stopped Wilder fight too early|
|Green playing ´unbelievably well´, says Kerr|
|Astros get 10th straight win with defeat of Red Sox|
|Warriors´ Iguodala to undergo MRI as Finals beckon|
|Three takeaways from Golden State´s comeback win over Portland|
|Wilder asks for patience over Joshua fight|
|Warriors on verge of NBA Finals after trumping Trail Blazers|
|Wilder retains title with first-round knockout of Breazeale|
|MLS Review: Rooney scores in DC defeat, Wondolowski breaks record|
|Larson wins $1m NASCAR All-Star Race after qualifying in Open|
|Nurse wants Raptors to ´play their a** off´ and change series|
|My last great moment at Allianz Arena – Ribery revels in Bundesliga triumph|
|Eagles defensive end Long announces retirement|
|Ribery, Robben shaped Bayern & Bundesliga – Kovac|
|Favre left disappointed after Dortmund miss out on title|
|Sancho targets Bundesliga glory with Dortmund next season|
|Koepka has no doubts he´ll win US PGA Championship|
|Johnson looking for ´some help´ from Koepka|
|History awaits as Koepka takes record seven-shot lead at US PGA|
|Of course I will be here – Cavani wants to stay at PSG|
|Saunders targets ´big names´ after becoming two-weight world champion|
|Kane stars as USA close on quarter-final berth|
|Lyon president Aulas urges PSG to make Ndombele move|
|Sylvinho, Juninho to join Lyon as coach and sporting director|
|Dupichot and Zebo grab hat-tricks as Racing 92 rout Perpignan|
|Sensational Inoue hammers Rodriguez to win IBF bantamweight belt|
|Do not steal goals, Raheem! Sterling offers explanation for Pep-talk|
|Ouch! Djokovic embarrassed after accidentally hitting ball boy|
|Ronaldo pays tribute to departing Allegri|
|We need to score that chance - Gracia rues Pereyra miss in City humbling|
|Benfica crush Santa Clara to clinch title and pass 100-goals mark|
|Derby strikes and play-off failings – Wondolowski´s MLS goals record in Opta numbers|
18 de mayo 2019
|Goal-shy Piatek must focus on Milan - Gattuso|
|There is a score there for me - McIlroy pleased with improved display|
|Guardiola: Man City treble feat harder than Champions League but can be repeated|
|Djokovic edges out Schwartzman to set up Nadal final|
|Koepka still well clear despite slight Bethpage wobble|
|Paris Saint-Germain 4 Dijon 0: Mbappe closes on Messi with brace|
|Guardiola fumes at payment question after FA Cup win|
|Stormers hold Crusaders to dramatic draw after Lions win thriller|
|Mentally I was done – De Bruyne on injury nightmare|
|Sterling denied FA Cup final hat-trick as Jesus awarded Man City´s second goal|
|Guardiola demands improvement from treble-winning Manchester City|
|Madness – Sterling astonished by De Bruyne´s FA Cup cameo|
|Take another look at Manchester City´s sensational six FA Cup final goals|
|Man City treble: Are Guardiola´s men the best team of the Premier League era?|
|Chiefs finish top as Saints edge out Quins for fourth|
|Runaway leader Koepka starts round three at Bethpage|
|Bundesliga 2018-19: Jadon Sancho – Dortmund´s golden boy in numbers|
|Hegerberg hat-trick earns Lyon sixth Women´s Champions League title|
|Magician David Silva makes treble-winning history for Manchester City|
|Man City are the best team in the world - Kompany|
|Man City treble: Five unsung moments in Guardiola´s domestic clean sweep|
|Manchester City 6 Watford 0: Sterling double helps secure unprecedented domestic treble|
|Catalans crush Warriors at Camp Nou in front of record crowd|
|Pliskova beats Sakkari in Rome repeat, Konta upsets Bertens|
|Valencia clinch Champions League qualification on final day|
|Kovac ´convinced´ he will be Bayern Munich boss next season|