The Spanish national team joined the ranks of the teams that qualified for the semi-finals of the European Football Championship by defeating its Portuguese hosts 1-0 in the second group matches of the last sixth round on Tuesday.
La Roja, runners-up in the last edition of the continental competition, got the win thanks to striker Alvaro Morata, who scored the only goal in the 88th minute.
Spain took the lead in the group from Portugal, the champion of the first edition in 2019, after increasing its score to 11 points, one point ahead of “Celecao”, who only needed a draw to qualify, while Switzerland third with 9 points by beating the Czech Republic 2-1.
Spain became the last team to qualify for the semi-finals after Croatia (Group A), Italy (Third) and the Netherlands (Fourth), while the Czech Republic was relegated to the second tier, joining Austria, England and Wales.
The final rounds of the UEFA Nations League will be held from 14 to 18 June 2023.
“In a moment we will have got a goal”
At the Braga Stadium in Portugal, home coach Fernando Santos made star Cristiano Ronaldo key, despite the five-time best player in the world being widely criticized by the Portuguese press against the background of his modest level during the “Celecao” -shown victory. the Czech Republic 4-0, Saturday. .
Joao Cancelo also returned to the defense on the right arcade, after missing the previous match to suspension. While Paris Saint-Germain full-back Nuno Mendes replaced Mario Roy on the left wing, duo Robin Diach and Danilo Pereira retained their positions at the heart of the defence.
Santos also kept the midfield trio of Ruben Neves, William Carvalho and Bruno Fernandes, with a single change in attack, preferring Diogo Jota to Rafael Leao on the left flank, while Bernardo Silva occupied the right flank.
Neves regretted his country’s loss at home to Spain for the first time since 2003, saying: “We knew Spain would have the ball a lot and we also knew we had the quality of possession but in the first 15 minutes. we didn’t press well. Then we adjusted things and controlled the ball. We had a lot of chances to score.”
“But in the last minutes, in a moment of silence from our team, we conceded a goal. It’s a goal we couldn’t achieve. We fought until the end and now we have to react. We must focus on the World Cup. There is room to correct mistakes and we need to improve a lot because there is a big tournament waiting for us.”
On the Spanish side, coach Luis Enrique made seven changes from the squad that lost 1-2 at home to Switzerland on Saturday, with only Pau Torres retaining his position in defense to join Hugo Guillamon play. Dani Carvajal was deployed on the right flank, while Jose Gaya played on the left.
He also replaced the veteran Barcelona trio Sergio Busquets (34 years old) and the two young men, Pedri and Gavi, with Carlos Soler, Rodri and Koke in the middle.
Morata returned to the starting line-up to play alongside Ferran Torres on the right and Pablo Sarabia on the left, while Marco Asensio sat on the bench.
Morata the hero
In a negative first half, Portugal played in an organized manner, leaving possession to their neighbors Spain, who seemed unable to find the net despite their reliance on counter-attacks and a dangerous opportunity 8 minutes after the start of the whistle after a defensive error from Manchester City’s defender Cancelo and a misunderstanding with Neves benefited from him Sarabia to hit the ball hit defender Pereira.
Portugal responded from a corner and a right-footed shot from Neves, which was blocked by goalkeeper Unai Simon, 23, to return the latter and shine after 10 minutes before a shot by Liverpool striker Jota.
Portugal started the second half with a dangerous attack by Ronaldo after a pass in behind the Spanish defence, but goalkeeper Simon blocked the shot from the Manchester United star, 47.
Enrique made several substitutions and brought on the quadruple of Busquets, Gavi, Jeremy Pino and Pedri to add more danger to the “La Roja” side, while the Portugal coach responded by bringing on Liao and Vitina, while Morata the Portugal- forced goalkeeper Diogo Costa into a wonderful save. after a through shot with his left foot (77), in front To open the scoring after a long pass from Carvajal to young substitute Nico Williams, who turns his head in front of goal, followed by the unmarked Atletico Madrid striker in the open goal ( 88).
Ronaldo almost realized the superiority of his team, but Simon was on the lookout again by blocking the CR7 shot (90).
In the same group, Switzerland beat its guest Czech Republic 2-1.
The three goals were scored in the first half, so the hosts went ahead in the 29th and 30th minutes through Remo Frullier and Brill Impolo, and Patrick Shek narrowed the gap in favor of the visitors before the end of the first half (45 ).