Croatia was in sorrow late Monday after its national side failed to qualify into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals after 1-0 defeat by Spain, but praised the squad's play against the defending champions.
"Spectacular Farewell of Fiery Ones from Euro," read a headline of the influential Jutarnji List daily online edition.
Thousands of people, many of whom dressed in Croatia's red and white chequered national colors, watched the match broadcast live on a giant screen in the capital Zagreb, with a lot of emotions.
"I'm, sad but we were equal to a great Spain," said 25-year-old Ratko Boric.
Many other fans were sad, but proud.
"They were fighting like lions and they made us proud. One should not forget who were our opponents," estimated Branko Toncic.
The 30-year-old teacher watched the match with friends in a cafe in downtown Zagreb which, like many others in Croatia, provided large screens for their guests to enjoy the European Championship.
Spain qualify as Group C winners and will now play their quarter-final in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday against the Group D runners-up, while Italy finish second thanks to their 2-0 win over Ireland in Poznan.