Spain entered Saturday knowing they were the odds-on favourites in their 2020 European Championship Qualifiers match against Norway since they were at home and also looked like the strongest team on paper. And while La Roja ended winning by 2-1 score, many would have expected a bigger differential on the final result. A first-half strike from Rodrigo and a penalty from Sergio Ramos lifted Luis Enrique’s men to the win, while Joshua King netted Norway’s lone goal.
Spain dominated the first half entirely
The stats do not lie in this one. Spain had 67% of possession, edged their opponents on goal attempts (26-4), shots on target (10-2) and several other statistics. With that in mind, the fact that La Roja dominated right from the start wasn’t a surprising thing. Alvaro Morata was close from scoring the opener in the fifth minute, but Rune Jarstein denied him with a stunning save. However, the Hertha Berlin goalkeeper couldn’t do anything in the 15th minute when Rodrigo found the back of the net. The Valencia striker – who was playing at home in Mestalla – took advantage of a pass from Jordi Alba to score his fifth international goals.
La Roja had lots of scoring opportunities to bolster their lead before the half-time break. Rodrigo, Morata, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio all had chances, but either their inaccuracy or Jarstein’s impressive performance denied them time and time again. Markus Henriksen could’ve equalised for Norway in the 31st minute, but his close-range attempt ended in David De Gea’s gloves. Spain’s best chance came thanks to Jordi Alba, but the Barcelona left-back had a goal disallowed due to offside. The first half ended with a 1-0 lead for Spain, but no one should’ve felt surprised had the first 45 minutes ended with a bigger differential.
Sergio Ramos saves the day for Spain
Norway started the second half with a different attitude, and they looked far more positive after the break. Spain still looked in control, but out of nowhere the Scandinavian side managed to equalise the contest in the 65th minute. Inigo Martinez committed a foul when he pulled an opponent’s jersey and Joshua King ended delivering the goods for Norway from the spot. The Bournemouth star beat David De Gea and silenced Mestalla when he found the back of the net.
Fortunately for Spain, their captain Sergio Ramos rose up to the situation. Just five minutes after Norway equalised the contest, the Real Madrid centre-back had a golden chance to put Spain back on top with a penalty of his own after Jarstein brought down an opponent inside the box. As it has been the trend all season long, Ramos converted from the spot and La Roja gained control once again. This time it would be for good, though, as Spain wouldn’t relinquish their lead once again.
Even though things looked complicated in the second half, Spain secured the three points with ease. And they fully deserved the win based on how the game happened.
Spain: De Gea (5); Jesus Navas (6), Sergio Ramos (7), Inigo Martinez (5), Jordi Alba (8); Dani Parejo (6) (Rodri (-), 77′), Sergio Busquets (6), Dani Ceballos (7) (Canales (-), 74′); Rodrigo (7), Morata (6), Asensio (6)
Bench: Kepa (GK), Pau Lopez (GK), Bernat, Gaya, Sergi Gomez, Hermoso, Sergi Roberto, Saul, Juan Mata, Muniain
Norway: Jarstein (7); Elabdellaoui (4), Nordtveit (5), Ajer (5), Aleesami (6); Odegaard (5) (M. Elyounoussi (6), 56′), Henriksen (5), Selnaes (6), Johansen (5) (Kamara (-), 77′); King (7), T. Elyounoussi (5) (Johnsen (5), 55′)
Bench: Bratevit (GK), Grytebust (GK), Svensson, Sorloth, Rosted, Linnes, Hovland, Fossum, Daehli
Goals: Rodrigo (1-0, 16′), King (1-1, PK, 65′), Sergio Ramos (2-1, PK, 71′)
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)
Yellow cards: Dani Ceballos, Inigo Martinez (Spain), Ajer, T. Elyounoussi, Johansen, Johnsen (Norway)
Red Cards: None
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