Spain was sent by Morata to semi-finals!

Advertisement

Alvaro Morata sent Spain into the Nations League semi-finals with a dramatic late goal to topple Portugal in Braga.

Spain needed a victory to return to the Final Four after losing last year’s final to France. Portugal won the competition’s inaugural edition at home in 2019 but hasn’t made it past the group stage since then.

Portugal had a late chance to earn the point it needed but Cristiano Ronaldo missed from close range to see his scoreless streak with the national team reach three matches.

Portugal – Spain Played on 09/27/2022

Spain struggled to create chances until Dani Carvajal found Nico Williams inside the area and the young Athletic Bilbao forward headed the ball back across the box for an easy strike by Morata into the open net.

it had been in control of the group until losing 2-1 to Switzerland at home last weekend, while Portugal took over first place with a 4-0 win over the Czech Republic.

Spain hadn’t been able to win in Portugal in nearly two decades, since a friendly in 2003. It got its first competitive away victory against Portugal since a 2-1 World Cup qualifying triumph in 1934.

The Iberian neighbours had drawn their last four matches including friendlies. Spain’s last triumph against Portugal had come in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of the 2012 European Championship.

Spain also needed a last-day victory to make it to the Final Four last year, shocking Germany 6-0 at home.

Alvaro Morata struck late to send Spain into the Nations League semi-finals

at the expense of group leaders Portugal on an entertaining night in Braga.

The hosts needed only a point after the complexion of the group had changed following their win over Czech Republic

and Spain’s loss to Switzerland last time out,

looking good value for it for much of the game.

While the away side saw plenty of the ball,

a lack of incision saw the game largely played in front of a resolute Portuguese defence. Still, even despite the attacking talent on the pitch, this was a game of few genuine clear-cut chances.

The best of them came to both Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo. The latter,

Advertisement

perhaps due to a lack of consistent game time at Manchester United squandered a number of opportunities, striking Unai Simon when through on goal.

Morata, not exactly the most fearsome striker on the planet, did manage to prove clinical at the death. Following the introduction of Nico Williams,

Spain exploited gaps in the home side’s backline and it was the youngster’s header into Morata’s path that set-up the goal,

a powerful finish from inside the 6-yard box with an open goal at his mercy.

Full time: Ukraine 0-0 Scotland They’ve done it! Scotland have been promoted to the top table of the Nations League after an heroic performance in Krakow. They rode their luck at times, and the marvellous Craig Gordon made two or three terrific saves,

but for long periods they defended with calmness and authority. Given how many key players they were missing, it’s an outstanding achievement.

Ronaldo worry

The main issue for Portugal remains Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of minutes at club level and his continued importance internationally. Put simply, the Portuguese will struggle to tap into their quality unless the Manchester United man can return to some semblance of form which appears unlikely at present. The veteran talisman contributed one assist this international period which is painfully little compared with his usual reliable rates, so Santos truly has a dilemma heading to Qatar with some fantastic talent waiting for their chance in his place.

Portugal, winners of the inaugural Nations League in 2019, needed just a point in Braga to finish top of Group A2 but dropped to second as Morata tapped in Nico Williams’ header on 88 minutes.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *