League of Nations
Spain matured the duel against Portugal with patience and found the key to the final four of the League of Nations with the energy of the winger and the striker’s last goal
Spain found in Braga the prize for faith. He believed La Roja in his own idea with up to seven news regarding the bad game against Switzerland and a team that nobody expected, he recomposed himself after a flat first half and ended up hitting without reaction capacity. Although possession was always his, he needed the changes to finish maturing a very dangerous but well-controlled rival. Busquets, Pedri and Gavi entered, marked in Zaragoza and heroes in Portugal. So are the things. Also Nico Williams, the proper name along with the scorer of the goal, Morata, of a victory in the Iberian battle that opens the doors to the final four of the League of Nations.
From the first minutes a new Spain tried to become owner of the ball, with a movement that lacked a point more depth. Without the ball, the high pressure began to bear fruit with a tremendous error by the Portuguese team when it came to the ball. Sarabia’s shot in the subsequent play ran into the forest of legs of the Portuguese defense but it was a warning from La Roja, ready to give battle as Luis Enrique had assured in the previous one.
The minutes went by and the Spanish possession was increasing, desperate at times to the public of the peculiar Municipal de Braga. Patience in the visiting team to erode the adversary network, the same plan of the last twenty years, as Fernando Santos, the local coach, said. This time Luis Enrique’s team was precise, while Portugal wore themselves out chasing shadows. Ferran Torres lacked overflow, very slow in a couple of snatch attempts from the right cal line, but the duel was where Spain was interested.
Diogo Costa, Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Danilo, Nuno Mendes, Neves (Joao Félix, min. 90), William Carvalho (Leao, min. 78), Diogo Jota (Vitinha, min. 78), Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva (Joao Mario, minute 72) and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Unai Simón, Carvajal, Hugo Guillamón (Busquets, min. 46), Pau Torres, Gayà, Soler (Pedri, min. 60), Rodri, Koke (Gavi, min. 60), Ferran Torres (Nico Williams, min. 73) , Morata and Sarabia (Yéremy Pino, min. 60).
0-1: min. 88, Morata.
Daniele Orsato (Italy). He admonished the Spaniards Guillamón and Carvajal, and the Portuguese Bernardo Silva and Nuno Mendes.
Match of the sixth day in group 2 of the League of Nations, played at the Municipal Stadium of Braga before 28,196 spectators.
Everything was complicated in a seen and not seen. First a good cross from Bernardo Silva, then a couple of messes in the exit of the ball, at least risky to the point of being unnecessary, and finally with a long shot from Rúben Neves that Unai Simón disrupted as best he could. The tables had turned with that increased sense of Portuguese danger. As Luis Enrique himself recognized, Portugal needs much less to reach the goal, individual talent things and a perfect summary of what was happening.
That quality was put on the table by Bruno Fernandes to lead after stealing and change the game towards Diogo Jota, who cut and armed the shot to force Unai Simón to show off. The Basque goalkeeper avoided the first local goal but the sensations were already worrying. The Portuguese goal was so much ruminated that the stands celebrated a shot by Bruno Fernandes that kissed the net on the outside, deceiving the optical effect to locals and strangers in the stadium. The first half was coming to an end when news arrived from Spain some time later, with a forced volley from Ferran that was lost high.
The truth is that the break did not revitalize Spain either. Rodri returned from the break as central defender in place of the reprimanded Guillamón and Busquets as positional midfielder, a substitution that once again surprised in the purest Luis Enrique style. The first thing that stood out was Cristiano Ronaldo’s one-on-one against Unai Simón, which the Athletic goalkeeper took from the Madeira goalkeeper. Feline.
The bench decides
Spain’s response was a long shot from Carlos Soler that went wide. Little baggage. It was time to shake the tree and for that they took the alternative Pedri, Gavi and Yéremy Pino on stage, almost nothing. The three stepped onto the pitch while the Braga public entertained Cristiano Ronaldo, the national hero who goes through difficult times and whom his people do not forget.
It was a new game, lasting half an hour, with the gala midfield looking for redemption after the fiasco in Zaragoza. Things improved substantially, Spain believed it just one goal from the goal and fear entered Portugal’s body.
Spain had to play everything for everything in pursuit of the goal that would open the doors of the final to four and with Nico Williams Luis Enrique burned their ships. It was before a good maneuver by Morata, in the turn and the quick left-footed shot, froze hearts in Braga. La Roja was closer to the goal, but time was running out. The best weapon, the speed with spaces of the youngest of the Williams, making merits for the World Cup. He greatly hurried the clock when the seasoned Carvajal gained meters and crossed to the far post. There the dynamiter Nico Williams combed it and Morata shot where a striker should be. Overflowing joy on the Spanish bench, which ran down the flank in a celebration typical of a final, just as Luis Enrique had described the match.
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