Spain secured their spot in the semi-finals of the Uefa Nations League thanks to a 1-0 win over Portugal on Tuesday night.
It was a dream end to Nations League A2 with Portugal and Spain essentially playing off for the spot in the final four. Portugal had the upper hand and knew a draw would have been enough, while Spain needed to do something they hadn’t since the 2010 World Cup – beat Portugal inside 90 minutes.
Despite all the attacking talent on display, it was a game to largely forget between Portugal and Spain as the former were happy to sit back and frustrate their visitors who just couldn’t break them down. In the first half, Spain mustered just three shots with none on target despite having 66% possession. Having done the same last time out, it was the first time Spain had failed to register a shot on target in the first half of back-to-back games across all competitions since at least May 2006 according to Opta.
Portugal weren’t much better with four shots but two hit the target and the pair combined for an xG of 0.3 in the opening 45 minutes but Fernando Santos’ men were doing their job.
888sport betting offer: How to get £30 in free bets (+£10 casino bonus)
Eligible readers interested 888sport's welcome offer can follow THIS LINK and sign up using the code 30FB.
Min deposit £/€/$10 • Promo code: 30FB • A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £/€/$10 • Min odds 1/2 (1.50) • Free Bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days • Free Bet stakes not included in returns • Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days and expires after 14 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager the bonus amount 40 times within 14 days • Withdrawal restrictions, payment methods, country & full T&Cs apply. 18+ only. Please play responsibly. For more information, visit Be Gamble Aware.
Things improved in the second half for Spain and they ended the match with 10 shots and five on target but Portugal managed to hold firm and frustrate Ferran Torres, who was brought off in the 73rd minute, extending his goalless run for La Roja to seven matches across all competitions. This poor run comes after the Barcelona forward had scored 12 goals in his previous 17 games for Spain.
Torres was replaced by Nico Williams, who some believed had only been called up to secure his future for Spain, after older brother Inaki Williams was able to switch his international allegiance to Ghana. But Williams’ introduction proved to be a vital one.
With just two minutes of normal time left to play, the Bilbao forward was given too much space at the far post to get his head onto a ball into the box from Dani Carvajal. Williams’ header, whether a shot or a genuine pass attempt, went across the face of the goal for Morata to slam home from close range securing all three points for Spain and a second consecutive appearance at the Uefa Nations League semi-finals.
BetUK World Cup offer: Bet £19, Get £66 in Free Bets
You can get £66 in Free Bets when you bet £19 with Bet UK ahead of the World Cup by CLICKING HERE or on the image below.
Full T&Cs Apply. New customers only. Stake min amount of £19 (odds 1.8 or greater) on any sporting event. Promotion available between 14/11/22 - 01/12/22. Max 4 x £10, 4 x £5, 1x £6 Free Bets credited on qualifying bet settlement on selected events. 1x claim per customer. Void, cashed out, partially cashed out bets do not qualify. Each Way bets, system bets and profit boost are not permitted for qualifying bet. Free bets are non-withdrawable & not returned with winnings. Free bets expire after 7 days of qualifying bet settlement. 18+ BeGambleAware.org
The goal was Morata’s 13th for Enrique since the former Barcelona boss took charge of Spain, with no player managing more during his reign (level with Torres). It was also another clutch moment from Morata, who also scored a late goal against Sweden last November to secure Spain’s spot at this year’s World Cup coming off the bench then to net the winner in the 86th minute.
Alvaro Morata's game by numbers vs. Portugal:
100% take-on success
4 duels won
3 shots on target
2 fouls won
The match winner. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/jFg5WyCJb9
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 27, 2022
Morata gets a lot of criticism for not being a clinical striker at both club and country level but he remains a reliable servant for Enrique, who has vocally backed him in the past. After a poor showing at Euro 2020, Enrique said: “Coaches have access to a lot of information that fans and journalists don’t have. They don’t see the training sessions.
“I say ‘Morata and ten more’ as a stimulus to give him more confidence, but not just because he’s missed a chance… He does a lot of things well. It isn’t about gifting him anything.”
Now Enrique will be hoping Morata can fire him to World Cup glory.