Almighty howler settles Spain nerves before putting Euro 2020 on notice

Date published: Wednesday 23rd June 2021 6:55 - Steve Pearson

Spain celebration v Slovakia, Euro 2020, June 2021

A truly remarkable blunder helped Spain rout Slovakia 5-0 in a performance that suggested they will be a serious threat at Euro 2020.

Spain were handed a golden opportunity to settle their nerves when Koke was kicked in the back of his leg during an attempted clearance. The Spanish had remarkably missed their last four penalties, and raised that figure to five when Alvaro Morata saw his effort superbly saved by Martin Dubravka.

The hosts were attacking in force after drawing their first two encounters, and came within inches of taking the lead twice through Pablo Sarabia and Pedri. Little did they know their much-needed goal would soon come in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Sarabia rattled the crossbar with another strike, but the ball looped up and appeared destined to bounce on the line. Dubravka settled under the ball, and under the lightest of pressure, punched the ball into his own net in truly bizarre fashion.

The lead was doubled on the stroke of half time in another moment Dubravka will not look back on fondly.

The Newcastle goalkeeper was caught in no man’s land after Gerard Moreno showed surprising quickness. His clipped ball back across goal was met by Aymeric Laporte who guided his head into the far corner to make it 2-0.

Half-time did little to quell Spain’s dominance, and within 12 minutes, the lead was three.

Jordi Alba marauded down the left before his accurate cut-back found the lively Sarabia. The PSG playmaker showed great technique and timing to steer his first-time effort in off the post.

Luis Enrique then appeared to have shown the magic touch when substitute Ferran Torres scored with his first touch. The finish was a delightful flick after a corner routine left Slovakia at sixes and sevens. After a pair of poor results to start the competition, Spain were rounding into form at just the right time.

Four soon became five when fellow substitute Pau Torres got in on the act. A woeful mix-up in the Slovakian ranks when attempting to clear a corner saw the ball break to the centre-back.

His shot took two Slovakian touches on route to nestling in the net and ultimately went down as a Juraj Kucka own goal.

With Sweden defeating Poland in the corresponding fixture, Spain advanced as runners-up in the group to set up a mouth-watering clash with Croatia.

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