Spain secured a spot in the Nations League semi-finals with a 1-0 win over Portugal. Portugal knew they needed a draw to qualify but the Spaniards narrowly edged them out for the first time since the 2010 World Cup. Despite the abundance of attacking quality on display, Portugal vs. Spain was essentially a forgettable matchup as the former were content to sit back and annoy their guests who simply couldn’t break them down. Despite dominating 66% of the possession in the first half, Spain only managed three shots, none of which were on goal.
Although Portugal wasn’t much better, Fernando Santos’ team was doing their job. Of Portugal’s four shots, just two were on goal, and the pair combined for an xG of 0.3 in the opening 45 minutes. Spain played better in the second half and finished with 10 shots, five of which were on goal, but Portugal held strong and frustrated Ferran Torres, who was substituted in the 73rd minute, extending his goalless streak for La Roja to seven games in all competitions.
Nico Williams, who some thought had just been called up to protect his future for Spain, took Torres’ position. The Bilbao attacker was afforded too much room at the far post to get his head on a pass into the box from Dani Carvajal with just two minutes remaining in regular time. Williams’ header, whether a shot or an actual pass attempt, crossed the goal face, allowing Morata to score from close range and give Spain all three points and a spot in the Uefa Nations League semi-finals for the second time in a row.
No player scored more goals for Enrique, the former Barcelona manager who now leads Spain, than Morata, who scored his 13th for the team (level with Torres). It was yet another crucial play from Morata, who previously netted the game-winning goal in the 86th minute against Sweden last November to guarantee Spain’s place in this year’s World Cup after coming off the bench.
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