Spain secured their first victory at Euro 2020 in style as they defeated Slovakia to advance as Group E winners and establish their last 16 ties with Croatia.
Luis Enrique‘s side has entered the knockout stage after their most aggressive match, proving to be the best for Slovakia at the bottom.
The Slovak goalkeeper, who had saved a penalty from Alvaro Morata earlier, hit the ball into his own net after Sarabia’s attempt hit the post and bounced off the post.
Juraj Kucka completed the Spanish defeat unintentionally, curling the ball over his line for a short distance.
The meeting between Spain and Croatia will be in Copenhagen on Monday at 17:00 BST, with Slovakia being out.
Spain impresses as the Group E game progresses.
After a draw with Sweden and Poland, where Spain struggled to find a target despite boasting 85% and 76.4% of possession. Luis Enrique compared his side to a bottle of Cava waiting to be unused at Euro 2020.
This was reminiscent of the glorious football that saw La Roja win European titles in 2008 and 2012, both sides of the World Cup. However, Slovakia did not give much of a test after Dubravka put pressure of Sarabia in his net instead of behind the corner.
Less than 20 minutes earlier, he had saved a penalty from Morata, his attempt being the luxury of a goalkeeper.
The kick, awarded after Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers consulted with the pitchside guard, was the fifth consecutive penalty missed by Spain. And they failed to score with six of the last nine in the European Championships.
Manchester City defender Laporte hit Gerard Moreno’s goal to double Spain’s lead and move faster in the second half. And saw Sarabia and Torres finish with a brilliant close-up before Slovakia’s sluggish performance combined with a second own goal.
There was a lot of excitement in the Seville crowd, but not with Spain’s sixth goal. Instead, it was played in another team game as Poland fought back to the level from 2-0 down to Sweden with six minutes left.
That would have sent Spain through the top of the group. But a 94th-minute winner for Sweden means 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia awaits.
Martin Dubravka’s own goal to give Spain a helping hand.
It has been described as “heroic and humiliation” and “nightmare.”
Spain knew that victory would secure a place in the knockout stages of the European Championship and went on to win 5-0 in Slovakia. But they have been given a lot of help literally by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Earlier in the tournament, Slovakia’s first number also undermined Alvaro Morata’s confidence by receiving a fine penalty save before Spain got their best match.
Pablo Sarabia hit the crossbar, and time seemed to stand still in Seville as the ball centered in the air took time to return to the ground.
When it finally did, Dubravka made a fatal mistake. When the ball fell under the crossbar, and the goalkeeper put it into his net.
“A very good goal. The worst nightmare for Dubravka,” said commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball.
It was a very bad thing for Dubravka. Hero to zero. It was a bad judgment. Could it be the spark they need in this tournament?
They were brave and dominated.
Spain’s place in the last-16 was undoubtedly looking at the match against Slovakia following a draw with Sweden and Poland. Where they failed to create enough clear chances despite holding the ball.
Boss Luis Enrique suggested in the match that his team was ready to release. He Said, “They are like a cava bottle, and we are about to remove the cork.”
They did this impressively with additional goals from Aymeric Laporte, the first of his country Sarabia. And Ferran Torres before Jan Kucka also netted through his own net.
That fifth goal means that there have been eight goals scored in the tournament so far, most of them scored between 1980 and 2016 combined (8).
Spain also equalized the winner of the Euro match, only for the fifth time when the game was decided by five goals. Putting the final 16th match against the World Cup finalist Croatia.
In addition, the Spanish football expert Guillem Balague added: “Luis Enrique was right. He saw the team’s ability to play the best football we have ever seen in Euros.
“The fans were with us, the good spirit of all the better Spain I’ve seen in a long time.”