A Martin Dubravka howler helped Spain to an emphatic 5-0 win over Slovakia as Luis Enrique’s side eased into the last 16 of Euro 2020.
An under-fire Enrique made four changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Poland as Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Busquets, Eric Garcia and Pablo Sarabia started.
Spain started on the front foot, but once again proved to be wasteful as Alvaro Morata had a penalty kick saved by Dubravka. However, the Slovakian hero soon became a villain as he inexplicably punched a high ball from a Sarabia strike against the bar into his own net.
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Aymeric Laporte scored his first Spain goal to double the hosts’ advantage on the stroke of half time, getting on the end of a Gerard Moreno cross into the middle to loop a header into the top corner.
A third goal was added just before the hour mark when Jordi Alba picked out Sarabia in the middle with a low cross. The Paris Saint-Germain forward showed good composure to guide his finish off the inside of the post.
Ferran Torres was introduced off the bench and scored a fourth just 44 seconds later, flicking home a Sarabia cross, before Pau Torres forced an own goal from Juraj Kucka as Spain made it five.
While this comprehensive victory sent Spain into the last 16, it wasn’t enough for them to clinch first spot in Group E as Sweden’s 3-2 win over Poland saw them finish top of the standings instead.
TALKING POINT - Why did Luis Enrique allow Alvaro Morata to take a penalty kick?
More than once at this tournament, Enrique has had to make a public defence of Morata, who has spurned a number of golden opportunities in the games he has played. The Juventus striker’s confidence is fragile, which is why it made little sense for him to take a penalty kick when it was awarded in the first half of this match. That Morata was denied from 12 yards out came as no surprise. While this was a better attacking display by Spain, Enrique still has work ahead of him to restore his centre forward.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Pablo Sarabia (Spain)
The selection of Sarabia for this game, as well as the match against Poland, raised some eyebrows, but the PSG forward more than justified his place with this performance, notching a goal and an assist. The 29-year-old gave Spain the sort of directness they had previously lacked and was capable of producing a final product to make the most of the opportunities his team created. Sarabia embodied the improvement in this Spain display.
Slovakia - Dubravka 3, Pekarik 5, Satka 4, Skriniar 5, Hubocan 3, Kucka 4, Hromada 3, Haraslin 4, Hamsik 4, Mak 4, Duda 4. Subs - Weiss 3, Duris 3, Lobotka 4, Suslov 4.
Spain - Unai Simon 5, Azpilicueta 6, Laporte 7, Eric Garcia 7, Alba 8, Pedri 8, Busquets 8, Koke 7, Gerard Moreno 7, Morata 4, Sarabia 9. Subs - Thiago 5, Ferran 7, Pau 6, Traore 5, Oyarzabal 4.
Sarabia celebrates his goal
Image credit: Getty Images
11’ PENALTY KICK TO SPAIN! The referee has used VAR to decide Hromada fouled Koke inside the box and points to the spot!
12’ PENALTY KICK SAVED! Morata steps up under intense pressure... and his spot kick has been saved! Dubravka went the right way and keeps the scoreline level. Oh dear, Alvaro. Just not happening for him.
30’ GOAL! Slovakia 0-1 Spain: What has happened there?! Sarabia struck the crossbar from the edge of the box, the ball spun high into the air, the Dubravka somehow managed to punch it into his own net! That is a howler from the Slovakian goalkeeper! Incredible!
45+3’ GOAL! Slovakia 0-2 Spain: Spain have a second! Moreno beat Dubravka to a loose ball that the goalkeeper should have dealt with, he cut back the cross into the middle and Laporte looped a header into the top corner of the Slovakian net! Spain have a cushion!
57’ GOAL! Slovakia 0-3 Spain: That is much more like it from Spain! That's the best goal they have scored at this tournament! A good passing move saw the ball sprayed out to Alba, he then picked out Sarabia in the box with a low pass and he guided a finish in off the post!
67’ GOAL! Slovakia 0-4 Spain: He's only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, but Torres has found the back of the net! Sarabia was played to the byline by Pedri, he found Torres in the middle and the Manchester City attacker flicks beyond Dubravka! A very nice goal!
72’ GOAL! Slovakia 0-5 Spain: Incredible! He's only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds and just like Ferran the other Torres, Pau, has found the back of the net! Although the final touch might have come off a Slovakian defender, but it doesn't matter. Spain have a fifth!
Spain have now missed their last five penalty kicks in succession for the first time in their history, and their second at Euro 2020.
Aymeric Laporte scored his first goal for Spain in his fourth appearance for the country.
There have been more own goals (eight) scored at Euro 2020 than by any single player.
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