On Thursday night at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes in Granada, Spain drew 1-1 with Greece in their first match in Group B of World Cup qualifying for Qatar 2022.
After Koke and Alvaro Morata connected on a first-half header, with the Juventus man volleying into the net, La Roja appeared to be in cruise control, but an Inigo Martinez penalty gifted the Greeks the equalizing goal in one of the most one-sided draws a football fan would ever see.
Head coach Luis Enrique made a big change in his starting XI, with Marcos Llorente moving to right-back and Unai Simon replacing David de Gea in defense.
Spain made a good start and almost scored early on by Koke, who had back-to-back opportunities, with the latter bouncing wide.
Greece’s strategy was straightforward: they were happy to maintain a firm defensive shape while hoping to capitalize on a Spain mistake to strike on the counter-attack.
Greece was still giving Spain time and nearly paid the price when Dani Olmo’s shot stung the crossbar. Luis Enrique’s men broke the deadlock moments later when Koke lofted a pass into Morata, who took the ball off his chest and volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.
During the intermission, Luis Enrique made his first substitution, replacing Sergio Ramos with Inigo Martinez, and the Athletic Club man almost immediately made an impression, albeit a disappointing one for the hosts.
Martinez cleared a ball in his place but left his boot studs up and ran into Giorgos Masouras’ knee. Italian referee Marco Guida pointed to the line, and Anastasios Bakasetas hammered home the penalty kick to give Greece a 1-1 tie.
Luis Enrique went to his bench for a spark, bringing in Pedri and Bryan Gil to replace Olmo and Sergio Canales, respectively.
Spain pressed hard for a winner and seemed to be on the brink of scoring after a lovely one-two between Morata and Jose Luis Gaya, but the latter’s cross was just out of control of Mikel Oyarzabal.
In the end, Spain was unable to generate the scoring opportunities and shots on goal needed to secure the victory, leaving them scratching their heads in dismay at the sound of the final whistle with just a share of the spoils.