Spain 1-1 Portugal: Late Horta strike snatches draw in Nations League opener

Ricardo Horta scored a late equaliser as Portugal and Spain opened their Nations League campaigns with a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

Spain were defeated in the final by France in last year’s competition, but entered the 2022 edition after four straight wins.

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Morata fired Spain into a first-half lead as he became the joint-seventh highest scorer in La Roja’s history with his 26th strike in all competitions.

Portugal offered little in response until Horta popped up with eight minutes remaining to steal a draw in the Group A2 opener.

Gavi whipped narrowly wide in the opening exchanges, while Rafael Leao – making his first start for Portugal – blasted over at the other end.

Morata opened the scoring after 23 minutes when Gavi surged forward to find Pablo Sarabia, who unselfishly squared for the forward to tap in.

Carlos Soler almost doubled Spain’s lead shortly after but was denied by Diogo Costa before blazing the rebound over, while Andre Silva drilled just wide of Unai Simon’s right post.

Fernando Santos responded by sending on Ruben Neves at half-time but the second-half proceedings continued in similar vein, with Spain in control.

Leao spurned a presentable opportunity by firing into the onrushing Simons’ legs, before Morata prodded wastefully wide in an attempt to chip Costa.

Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced just after the hour, but it was another substitute, Horta, who equalised as he converted Joao Cancelo’s whipped cross, before Jordi Alba headed agonisingly wide with the goal gaping in the closing stages.

What does it mean? Spain winning run halted by Portugal

Spain had won their last four games including friendlies, scoring nine and conceding just once, and seemed set to extend that run against inaugural Nations League winners Portugal.

However, Horta’s ice-cold finish snatched a point for Portugal, who have only lost one of their last 10 games across all competitions. A result at the Estadio Benito Villamarin that Luis Enrique may have felt Santos’ side did not deserve. 

Gavi the great

Sergio Busquets played his 135th game for Spain, a feat only bettered by Sergio Ramos (181) and Iker Casillas (167), but it was his midfield partner Gavi who dominated proceedings.

The Barcelona youngster’s driving run was the creative spark behind Morata’s opener and the midfielder provided a game-high two chances (level with Raphael Guerreiro).

Unlucky Leao

Leao failed to make a difference on his maiden start for Portugal, in which he was regularly frustrated by the defending of Cesar Azpilicueta down the left flank.

The Milan winger won just four of his nine duels, while only finding the target with one of his game-leading three shots – the last of which was a great opportunity when isolated against Simon.

What’s next?

Spain head to Czech Republic on Sunday, while Portugal host Switzerland on the same day.

Source of the article

Author: XenBet

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