Spain 1-1 Portugal: Ricardo Horta's first Portugal goal earns point for visitors
Thursday, June 2, 2022
Ricardo Horta's first international goal earned Portugal a point against Spain in their Group A2 opener.
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Spain and Portugal shared a draw in Group A2 as Ricardo Horta opened his international account following Álvaro Morata's strike.
3' Gavi's thunderous shot is deflected behind
18' Rafael Leão shoots over from close range
25' Morata slots in following flowing move
59' Unai Simón denies Rafael Leão
64' Morata shoots wide after breaking clear
82' Ricardo Horta converts João Cancelo's cross
Match in brief: Portugal defy slick Spain
Spain started brightly against opponents who began with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, causing chaos with one of their first attacks as Gavi's fierce effort from distance was deflected behind by João Moutinho.
The 17-year-old was at the heart of much of La Roja's most enterprising work during the Group A2 opener. When Portugal lost possession inside their own half after 25 minutes, the Barcelona prodigy surged forward and supplied an incisive ball for Pablo Sarabia, whose cross allowed the unmarked Morata to slot in via the post.
Portugal should have been ahead by then. Raphaël Guerreiro's direct running and nimble trickery culminated in the wide man supplying Rafael Leão inside the penalty area, only for the Milan forward to fire over the crossbar from close range after affording himself space with a clever first touch.
Fernando Santos replaced João Moutinho with Wolves team-mate Rúben Neves at the break, and Rafael Leão and Morata traded chances in front of goal, Unai Simón denying Portugal an equaliser before the Spain scorer shot wide after breaking free.
The outstanding Gavi's 81st-minute departure came little more than a minute before Portugal's equaliser. João Cancelo raced down the right and located Ricardo Horta with a low delivery to the far post, the substitute scoring his first international goal to ensure both sides started with a point.
Joseph Walker, match reporter
Clashes between these sides are invariably tense but entertaining encounters and this one was no different. You have to say on the balance of things that Portugal probably deserved their equaliser after stepping up in the second half following the introduction of Neves. Gavi, however, stole the show for the hosts. What a player he is and what a superstar he will become.
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: "The side played well, I was happy. We had chances to win, but we also might have lost it at the end. It's difficult to keep up the rhythm for 90 minutes, but I was happy with what we did against one of the best sides in the world."
Álvaro Morata, Spain striker: "We didn't kill them off and they were able to get back into the game and draw. That's football. We need to keep on working and our focus turns to training tomorrow."
Pablo Sarabia, Spain forward: "They took a step forward after the break, they were able to read between the lines well and that was key to them getting the draw. We didn't have the ball as much in the second half. We need to go back over the game and correct our errors. We always look to win and we'll try to win the next few games and play our game."
Fernando Santos, Portugal coach: "In the second half we started better, had more of the ball and made Spain run more, which opened the spaces up. There came a time when it was better to put on players who are able to get on the end of centres, such as Horta and Guedes. That's where Horta's goal came from after Cancelo slid the ball across the box."
Ricardo Horta, Portugal winger: "I'm proud to score for my country. In the second half we were able to find the spaces we were looking for; we changed things at the break and were better when we came out. We are disappointed not to win, which is what we wanted."
André Silva, Portugal forward: "It's a good draw with a good side against whom we were losing. It was a good result for Portugal. We knew we had to press them higher up the pitch and use the ball better in order to create something. In the end, we got the goal we were looking for."
- The last five matches between these sides have finished level
- Spain have scored in each of their last 15 international matches
- Portugal have lost once in 13 UEFA Nations League matches, winning eight times
- The 2019 champions are unbeaten in six matches outside of Portugal in the competition, winning three times
- Braga winger Ricardo Horta had waited more than nine years to open his international account, making his Portugal debut in April 2013
- Morata has scored 26 goals in 53 international appearances
Spain: Unai Simón; Azpilicueta, Diego Llorente, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba; Soler (Koke 62), Sergio Busquets, Gavi (Marcos Llorente 81), Ferran Torres (Dani Olmo 62), Morata (De Tomás 70), Sarabia
Portugal: Diogo Costa; João Cancelo, Pepe, Danilo, Guerreiro; Bruno Fernandes (Matheus Nunes 81), João Moutinho (Rúben Neves 45), Otávio (Ronaldo 62); Rafael Leão (Ricardo Horta 72), André Silva (Gonçalo Guedes 62), Bernardo Silva
What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?
The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023 with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June.
The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.