firstpost.com : 20 JUNE, 2021, 3:00 PM
Luis Enrique admitted he expected more from Spain at Euro 2020 after a 1-1 draw with Poland on Saturday left his team facing a fight to reach the last 16.
Gerard Moreno missed a penalty and Alvaro Morata squandered the rebound as Spain’s scoring woes struck again, with Robert Lewandowski’s header earning Poland a valuable point in Seville.
After starting with a stalemate against Sweden, Spain sit third in Group E and may well now have to beat Slovakia in their final game on Wednesday to avoid an embarrassing early exit.
“I was expecting more,” said Luis Enrique. “I was expecting six points and zero goals conceded. But this is the situation.
“We’re coming into the crunch match now and if we want to progress we need to win. If we win, we’ll go through. If not, we’ll be out. That’s the reality.”
Morata poked in from close range to put Spain in front but Lewandowski’s 60th goal of the season pulled Poland level before Moreno’s penalty hit the post.
The rebound came quickly to Morata but with Wojciech Szczesny committed down to his right, the goal was open for the striker to score his second.
Instead, the whistles that accompanied Morata against Sweden last week were saved for the whole Spanish team at the final whistle.
Poland, meanwhile, formed a huddle on the pitch before going to over to salute their supporters, after the deadly Lewandowski came up trumps again to keep his own team’s hopes of progress alive.
“If it was a boxing match we would have won on points but Poland could have won too,” said Luis Enrique. “They had chances, they caused us problems.”
Luis Enrique had launched a passionate and prepared defence of Morata on Friday as he said the team would be “Morata and 10 others”.
But he also replaced Ferran Torres in the starting line-up with Moreno, the Villarreal striker whose 23 goals was second only to Lionel Messi last season in La Liga.
Morata almost gave away an early penalty with an overly-zealous challenge in the box, while Mateusz Klich rippled the top of the net with an effort from distance soon after.
Spain were the better side in possession, with Morata attempting a delicate chip when power might have been better, but Poland were dangerous on the break, Lewandowski tearing away after a poor pass by Rodri only to be marshalled out by Jordi Alba.
Morata’s best moment came in the 25th minute and it could hardly have been easier, even if a little shuffle put him in the right position to poke in Moreno’s shot from the right.
The offside flag went up and Spain’s players appeared to expect the cancellation but instead the goal stood, prompting Alba to fling his arms around Morata, who then dashed over to his coach, a show of thanks for the faith placed in him.
Poland came again though and twice went close before half-time, Karol Swiderski hitting the post with a curling shot that came back for Lewandowski, but he smashed at Unai Simon, who saved.
Lewandowski made no mistake nine minutes after half-time, peeling to the back post, nudging Aymeric Laporte to make the space and glancing a deft header into the corner.
Spain should have restored their lead after being gifted a dubious penalty for Klich leaving a late foot on Moreno.
Moreno stepped up but drove his penalty against the post and with the goalkeeper on the ground, Morata could have scored too but scuffed the rebound wide.
Moreno was taken off not long after while the openings kept coming for Morata as Torres chested down to him but Szczesny smothered the finish and the collision caused Morata to hobble off with four minutes left.
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