Sunday, August 1, 2021

Morata´s luck just not in as Lewandowski frustrates La Roja

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Jun 2021

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It all seemed too perfect. Just moments after Robert Lewandowski had dragged Poland back into it at the other end, Alvaro Morata had the chance to once again prove his critics wrong.

But with the goal gaping, Morata was unable to convert, as Spain followed up a 0-0 stalemate with Sweden with a 1-1 draw against Poland, La Roja failing to win their first two group games of a European Championship since Euro 1996.

Yet it had all been going well for Morata, who opened the scoring in the 25th minute when he prodded in from Gerard Moreno’s cross-shot, with VAR awarding the goal after the linesman’s incorrect offside flag.

Morata had charged off to celebrate with Luis Enrique, who came to the defence of Spain’s forward after Monday’s frustrating draw with Sweden in their Group E opener. 

He wasted Spain’s best chance when he failed to beat Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen one-on-one – his attempt one of three the Juventus forward, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid, sent off target in that match.

But it was a Saturday night which ultimately, for both Morata and his Spain team-mates, ended in frustration once more in Seville.

It could easily have been very different. Lewandowski, who had squandered Poland’s best chance of the first half when he struck straight at Unai Simon from point-blank range after Karol Swiderski had hit the post, making no mistake with what was just his second, and final, touch in the box within the width of the goal.

Lewandowski’s towering header from Kamil Jozwiak’s cross brought up his third major tournament goal – he is just the third Polish player to net in three separate major competitions, after Grzegorz Lato and Andrzej Szarmach.

His goal keeps Poland’s last-16 hopes alive in a group that remains wide open, though Spain should have been back ahead four minutes later.

Moreno was fouled by Jakub Moder, the offence spotted on a VAR check and referee Daniele Orsato pointing to the spot.

Unlike the composure he showed in the penalty shootout win over Manchester United in Villarreal’s Europa League final triumph last month, Moreno missed the target, his low shot hitting the base of the left-hand upright.

Yet there was Morata, charging in to meet the rebound, the goal wide open in front of him. The net should have been rippling. Instead, Morata was looking at the sky in anguish, his shot having sliced off his in-step and well wide.

Two more big opportunities followed for Morata, who finished with a game-high four attempts – three of them on target – but on neither occasion could he beat the final Poland block.

Only Fernando Torres (five) has scored more Euro goals than Morata (four) for their country, but when he trudged off in the 87th minute it was his miss which lingered in the Andalusian air as Poland held on for a hard-earned draw, and Spain must beat Slovakia next week to ensure they are not a group-stage casualty. 

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