Spain booked a place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League after defeating Portugal 1-0. La Roja, the runner-up of the last edition of the continental competition, owes its victory to striker Alvaro Morata, who scored the only goal in the 88th minute to end his group matches at the top of Group B in the first division with 11 points from six matches.
Alvaro Morata gave Spain a valuable victory by scoring the winning goal against Portugal on Tuesday in the competitions UEFA European Football Championshipthus ensuring “La Roja” a seat in the golden square.
Despite Portugal’s control of the match, last year’s finalist, Spain, remained in the atmosphere of the meeting and managed through a long pass sent by Dani Carvajal into the penalty area in the 88th minute and Nico Williams turned it in with a header to Morata, who shot it into the net to excel in the last moments of his life the match.
Spain joined Croatia, Italy and the Netherlands in next year’s Nations League semi-finals.
This is the first official victory for Spain over Portugal since 1934 and the first victory for Portugal since the friendly 3-0 victory in 2003.
Spain finished its group stage matches at the top of Group B in the first division with 11 points from six matches, one point behind second-placed Portugal, who only needed a draw to secure a place in the semi-finals.
“It was a tough match but I stuck to the team style and we worked hard. If we lost and failed to qualify for the semi-finals, it should have been by doing our best on the field and that’s what we had to do again,” Morata told reporters.
He added: “Every time Spain has to appear in the big matches. That’s what we did tonight and we’ve done it again.”
The defeat was a severe blow to Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of the Portugal national team, who created many chances, which allowed the hosts to dominate most of the match, and the European champion in the 2016 edition was close to qualifying for the Nations League finals.
Portugal almost opened the scoring in the 32nd minute through striker Diogo Gota, who received a long pass from Bruno Fernandes and fired a shot towards the top corner of the goal, but goalkeeper Unai Simon saved the attempt with one hand brilliantly.
Fernandes had a dangerous chance five minutes later when he fired a shot that hit the side-netting of the net next to the stands of the fans who thought he was a goal.
Spain looked confused and with another lackluster performance after their 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland on Saturday.
Spain coach Luis Enrique made seven changes to the starting lineup in a big surprise, leaving Barcelona players Sergio Busquets, Gabi, Pedri and Jordi Alba on the bench.
And he pushed with four changes in the second half, so Spain rose up and fired the first shot on goal during the match in the 70th minute through Morata.
It seemed that the Atletico Madrid striker had scored in the 76th minute when he fired a shot from long range into the lower right corner of the goal, but goalkeeper Diego Costa saved his goal when he saved the attempt brilliantly with one hand.
lack of efficacy
Ronaldo tried hard to score, but his game often lacked effectiveness and was unable to successfully communicate with his teammates who continued to miss opportunities and allowed Spain to dominate the match, enabling Morata to be the champion again with his late goal.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said the defeat would not change his team’s confidence and preparation for the World Cup, as he believes Portugal “remain among the favorites to win the title”.
Portugal will meet Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H in the World Cup.
He added in a press conference, “We were very well organized in the first half. They took possession of the ball but did not create anything with it. However, we fell and lacked strength after the 60th minute. They developed mainly because we lacked the ability to possess the ball.” . The players did not perform well during the match. Spain started playing strong and developed from no chances to score the winning goal at the end. They changed the script in the last minutes, that’s clear.”