Substitute Bruno Petkovic scored and won a penalty in extra-time as Croatia secured a first Nations League final appearance with a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands in Rotterdam.
The Dinamo Zagreb striker was introduced at the start of the additional period – just seconds after the Dutch had snatched an equaliser in the sixth minute of added time – and delivered a game-changing performance.
Petkovic’s driving run and shot from 25 yards put Croatia in front again before the 28-year-old, who scored an extra-time equaliser in the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil, won a penalty for Luka Modric to make it 4-2.
He also had a second goal ruled out for offside by VAR seconds before the final whistle.
Croatia, who reached the 2018 World Cup final and finished third last year in Qatar, are one win away from their first major trophy, with Spain or Italy standing in the way in Sunday’s final.
They had to do it the hard way as they recovered from Borussia Dortmund midfielder Donyell Malen’s first-half opener by scoring with their first two shots on target after the break.
Mario Pasalic’s 72nd-minute goal capped a turnaround started 17 minutes earlier by Andrej Kramaric’s penalty.
But just when it looked like they could celebrate a place in the final, Noa Lang pounced to force extra-time.
Eight minutes into the additional period Petkovic made his introduction count with the goal which put his side ahead again.
Netherlands’ desperation saw them send Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk up front but their hopes were ended when Manchester United defender Tyrell Malacia pulled down Petkovic and Modric sent goalkeeper Justin Bijlow the wrong way from the penalty spot.[mc4wp_form id="442993"]