Tuesday. 05.07.2022
NATIONS LEAGUE

Switzerland 0-1 Spain: In-form Sarabia secures first Roja win

Luis Enrique's side were not entirely convincing but got their win at the third time of asking, with Switzerland unable to respond to Sarabia's 13th-minute strike

Pablo Sarabia's penalty wasSpain's first goal from the spot in a World Cup qualifier since October 2009. Photo: @EURO2024/Twitter.
File photo of Spain's Pablo Sarabia. Photo: @EURO2024/Twitter.

Spain earned their first victory of the Nations League campaign in Switzerland on Thursday, winning 1-0 courtesy of an early Pablo Sarabia goal.

Finalists in the previous edition, Spain were frustrated in a draw with Portugal and then snatched a point against the Czech Republic before heading to Stade de Geneve.

Luis Enrique's side were not entirely convincing but got their win at the third time of asking, with Switzerland unable to respond to Sarabia's 13th-minute strike.

Bigger aims are on the horizon for La Roja, yet they remain firmly in contention for another Nations League run as a result.

Early Spanish pressure told when Marcos Llorente got in behind and squared for a simple Sarabia finish, with the scorer given the benefit of the doubt following a marginal offside call and lengthy VAR review.

Switzerland's only first-half attempts were miscued headers from Breel Embolo and Eray Comert, who each might have done better, although Sarabia also passed up an opportunity for his second when he blazed over.

Chances were even more sparse into the second half, with Switzerland gaining a foothold without really threatening.

Llorente whipped a left-footed shot wide, but Sarabia had continued to be the game's most dangerous player and his withdrawal just past the hour mark teed up a low-key finale.

Another successful Swiss trip

The Nations League ensures Spain are regularly playing high-level opponents, but there may have been some concern if the national team went three competitive matches without a victory in a World Cup year.

A trip to Switzerland was the ideal tonic then, for Spain are now unbeaten in all of their 11 matches in the country – their best such record anywhere.

Sarabia predictably pivotal

Escaping the Paris Saint-Germain bench, Sarabia enjoyed an outstanding season at Sporting CP and has also become a key figure at international level. He has scored three goals and assisted another in his past four appearances, with his nine goal involvements in the past 12 months leading all Spain players.

Llorente's involvement in the goal was perhaps a little less expected. A superb player he may be, but this was the Atletico Madrid man's second assist outside of Spain for club or country across his entire career.

Gavi given rough treatment

Barcelona teenager Gavi catches the eye every time he plays, and this match was no different in that sense, with one outrageous sequence seeing the midfield execute a 'sombrero' over Xherdan Shaqiri and then dance past Granit Xhaka.

But that piece of skill, like other rare moments of Spanish brilliance, was followed by a foul. Switzerland conceded 21 of them, including seven to poor Alvaro Morata.

What's next?

Spain get another shot at the Czech Republic, this time at home on Sunday, when Switzerland host Portugal.

Switzerland 0-1 Spain: In-form Sarabia secures first Roja win
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