Astrong second-half performance powered Spain to a 3-0 victory over Sweden in UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying on Monday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Converted penalties from Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata, plus an excellent strike from Mikel Oyarzabal paved the way for another three points for La Roja in Group F. Spain remain in first place in the group and now own a five-point advantage of the Swedes through four matchdays.
While there were times when Spain’s play was a bit too slow, they still created a bevy of chances in attack and were never really troubled by the Swedish attack.
With head coach Luis Enrique still unavailable due to personal reasons, assistant Robert Moreno was back in charge, and for the second match in a row Kepa was given the nod over David de Gea in goal. Also of note was the start for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who debuted last week against the Faroe Islands
Fabian looked to make a good first impression on the home fans and his stinging right-footed shot early on looked goal-bound, but was parried away at the last moment by Sweden goalkeeper Olsen. That was then followed by chances from Dani Parejo and Ramos that also forced saves from Olsen.
Spain was bringing the pressure and had the breakthrough through Rodrigo after a fine cross from Parejo, only for the linesman to raise his flag, nullifying the goal. Replays showed that Rodrigo was onside by a least a metre, but with no VAR, Spain were left empty-handed.
Spain began the second half with quicker circulation of the ball and it led to a pair of chances for Isco, the second one skipping just a hair wide after a Sweden giveaway in their own half.
Yet despite all their dominance, Spain were still stuck in a 0-0 draw, as Sweden were happy to let Spain continues ending crosses into the area that were then cleared with ease.
However, it was one attempted cross from Marco Asensio that led to Spain’s opening goal. The Real Madrid man’s cross smacked the arm of Sweden’s Sebastian Larsson, leading to a penalty and Ramos coolly converted the spot-kick for a 1-0 Spain lead.
Moreno made his first change right after the Ramos score, with Morata came on for Asensio, followed by Mikey Oyarzabal for Rodrigo, and their impact was almost immediate.
A brilliant turn from Morata led to a chance that ended with a foul from behind by Helander. Referee William Collum pointed to the penalty spot for the second time on the day, and this time Morata handled penalty-taking matters, firing in his right-footed attempt for a 2-0 Spain lead.
Spain were flying and were good value for their third goal, which came just two minutes after Morata’s penalty conversion. Fabian got loose and flipped a pass to Oyarzabal on the right, and the Real Sociedad man surgically picked out the bottom corner of the net to seal the 3-0 scoreline.
3.- Spain: Kepa; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Inigo Martinez (Diego Llorente, min. 88), Jordi Alba; Busquets, Parejo, Fabian; Marco Asensio (Morata, min. 65), Isco, Rodrigo (Oyarzabal, min. 72).
0.- Sweden: Olsen; Lustig, Jansson, Helander, Augustinusson; Claesson (Johansson, min. 27), Ekdal (Olsson, mi. 86), Larsson (Isak, min. 82), Forsberg; Quaison, Berg.
Goals: 1-0, min. 64: Ramos (p); 2-0, min. 85: Morata (p); 3-0, min. 87: Oyarzabal.
Referee: William Collum (Scotland). Yellow Cards: Jordi Alba (Min. 24) for Spain.
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu.