Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates after scoring his side's first goal...

Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates after scoring his side's first goal on a penalty kick during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. Credit: AP/Pedro Rocha

BARCELONA, Spain — Luka Modric scored a penalty to help Croatia beat Portugal 2-1 while Spain thumped Northern Ireland in the run-up to the European Championship on Saturday.

The friendly matches were the last for Spain and Croatia before they open the tournament against one another on June 15 in Berlin. They are in a tough Group B along with Italy and Albania.

Spain fine-tuned its attack with a 5-1 rout of Northern Ireland. Pedri González led the way with his first two goals for his nation.

Portugal has one more friendly — against Ireland on Tuesday — before it starts the competition against the Czech Republic on June 18 in Leipzig. Portugal is the favorite in Group F that also includes Turkey and Georgia.

Cristiano Ronaldo never left Portugal’s bench, with coach Roberto Martínez tapping Gonçalo Ramos to spear his attack.

Ronaldo joined Portugal on Friday after finishing his club campaign with Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia. The 39-year-old is set to make a record sixth appearance at the European Championship. Men’s soccer all-time leading scorer with 128 goals, Ronaldo helped Portugal win the European title in 2016.

Modric beat goalkeeper Diogo Costa to open the scoring in the eighth minute at Portugal’s National Stadium near Lisbon. The 38-year-old Real Madrid midfielder was sent to the penalty spot after Vitinha fouled Mateo Kovacic in the area.

Croatia's Luka Modric scores his side's first goal on a...

Croatia's Luka Modric scores his side's first goal on a penalty kick during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. Credit: AP/Pedro Rocha

Halftime substitutes Diogo Jota and Nelson Semedo linked up to equalize for the hosts in the 48th, with Semedo assisting the Liverpool forward to tap in.

Ante Budimir restored Croatia’s advantage in the 56th after the Osasuna striker headed in a rebound of a strike by Mario Pašalić that Costa had done well to push onto the crossbar.

Costa twice denied Nikola Vlašić to save Portugal from a heavier defeat.

Modric was substituted in the 54th. His contract with Madrid is set to expire at the end of the month following a season when he lost his starting role in Carlo Ancelotti’s side. But the former Ballon d’Or winner seemed to indicate he wants to continue playing for the Spanish club when he told its fans in the celebrations of Champions League title No. 15 that he would see them “next season.”

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures on the bench during an international...

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures on the bench during an international friendly soccer match between Portugal and Croatia at the National Stadium in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Saturday, June 8, 2024. Credit: AP/Pedro Rocha

Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday when host Germany plays Scotland.

SPAIN WINS

Northern Ireland’s Daniel Ballard stunned Spain with a second-minute header. But Luis de la Fuente’s team powered past their overmatched opponent in Mallorca.

Pedri scored twice in the first half for his first goals in his 20th appearance for Spain. The Barcelona midfielder, now 21, helped Spain reach the semifinals of Euro 2021 but had not played since the 2022 World Cup due to injury. He made his return in Spain’s 5-0 win over Andorra on Wednesday.

Álvaro Morata, Fabián Ruiz, and Mikel Oyarzabal, who put in three against Andorra, also chipped in with goals.

OTHER FRIENDLIES

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard added a third goal as Belgium brushed aside Luxembourg 3-0.

Belgium is expected to advance from a Group E that includes Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania.

Serbia rolled to a 3-0 win in Sweden thanks to goals by Sergej Milinković-Savić, Aleksandar Mitrović and Dušan Tadić.

England and Serbia open play on June 16 in Group C that also includes Denmark and Slovenia.

Denmark bettered Norway 3-1, with Erling Haaland getting the loser’s only goal. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jannik Vestergaard, and Yussuf Poulsen found the net for the Danes.

Slovenia needed goalie Jan Oblak to make a stoppage-time save to ensure a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria.

Switzerland and Austria drew 1-1 after Silvan Widmer leveled for the Swiss following an early goal by Christoph Baumgartner.

Austria and France will face off in their opener on June 17. They are in Group D with the Netherlands and Poland.

Switzerland has been drawn in Group A with Germany, Scotland and Hungary, which got a brace from Barnabás Varga to defeat Israel 3-0.

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