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Spain 2-0 Czech Republic: La Roja go top of Group A2

Goals from Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia earned Spain a 2-0 win against Czech Republic in Malaga which puts them top of Group A2.

Highlights: Spain 2-0 Czech Republic

Spain showed their squad depth with a 2-0 defeat of the Czech Republic which maintained La Roja's unbeaten record in Group A2 and moved them top of the section.

Key moments

18' Unai Simón paws Černý strike away
19' Spain goalkeeper denies Kuchta
24' Soler finishes flowing move
50' Pešek sends shot narrowly over target
75' Sarabia taps in Ferran Torres cross

Match in brief: Spain show class to see off Czechs

Spain had almost 75% possession when these sides drew on Matchday 2, and the hosts continued where they left off by dominating the early stages in Malaga, Álvaro Morata forcing Aleš Mandous to tip his cross out of Dani Olmo's path.

The patience their opponents showed in that game initially served Czech Republic well again, readily punishing misplaced passes with slick attacking moves. Unai Simón pawed Václav Černý's low strike away, then Jan Kuchta was denied by the goalkeeper.

Álvaro Morata congratulates Soler after watching him give Spain the lead in the 24th minute
Álvaro Morata congratulates Soler after watching him give Spain the lead in the 24th minuteAFP via Getty Images

Jaroslav Šilhavý looked on disbelieving that his side had not gone ahead, and the Czech coach's frustration was compounded six minutes later. Carlos Soler produced a ruthless finish after Marco Asensio picked out the Valencia livewire's late run inside the penalty area, then shot wide when the pair combined again as Spain threatened to overwhelm the visitors.

There were fewer chances during the second half, although Jakub Pešek lofted an inviting opportunity onto the roof of Unai Simón's net and Gavi added energy and intent to Spain's attacks in the closing stages.

As it happened: Spain 2-0 Czech Republic


The Barcelona teenager's turn of pace was pivotal in Spain's second, launching a sweeping move that culminated in Ferran Torres tailoring a cross to meet an expert run from Pablo Sarabia, who tapped in to put his side out of sight.

Victory earned Spain top spot in the section by a point, capitalising on Portugal's defeat in Switzerland and moving La Roja four clear of Šilhavý's third-placed side.

17-year-old Barcelona playmaker Gavi impressed after being introduced during the second half
17-year-old Barcelona playmaker Gavi impressed after being introduced during the second halfGetty Images

Simon Hart, match reporter

This was a satisfying night for Spain, whose victory combined with Portugal’s defeat by Switzerland propelled them to the top of their group. The goals came from Soler and Sarabia, though the work of Asensio and substitute Gavi in the build-up to each warrants praise too. Indeed, Gavi’s second-half cameo offered more exciting evidence of his sparkling talent.

There were positive signs for the Czechs too, who started so well, pressing Spain and going close through Černý and Kuchta. They had a spell in the second half, bolstered by the fresh legs of Hložek and Jurečka, but there was no way past Unai Simón and this was Spain’s night.

Reaction

Luis Enrique, Spain coach: "I am happy for many players who played a great game today. We could have finished the game in the first half with a couple more chances besides the goal. It was a hard-fought match and we had to work for it because our opponents played at a high level. The atmosphere was wonderful and I want to thank the fans in Malaga."

Carlos Soler, Spain midfielder: "The two games in September are very important and will serve to switch us on and help us improve and polish things. We came here with the mentality of finishing these games as first in the group before going on vacation. We have performed well but there are always things to improve."

Soler: 'We were more clinical'

Jaroslav Šilhavý, Czech Republic coach: "All the matches have been great. We had a very good atmosphere and we played a very good match ... we were active and dangerous. Unfortunately, we did not take our chances – but matches like this move us forward. We surprised Spain a bit with our [approach] and the fact that we played boldly."

Václav Černý, Czech Republic midfielder: "We knew how good the Spaniards were. They were excellent and could handle everything. We had a few good moments but the main difference was that they managed to take their chances."

Tomáš Soucek, Czech Republic captain: "I have to congratulate the whole team. We played better than [we did in the 1-1 draw] at home. We want to play a balanced game. When we play away from home, it's more difficult for 90 minutes to press to the maximum and, at the same time, to keep balanced and take your chances. It's not easy, especially away, and that’s what we have to improve – our productivity."

Pablo Sarabia celebrates his goal
Pablo Sarabia celebrates his goalAFP via Getty Images

Key stats

  • Spain have scored in 18 successive matches and in 15 of their last 16 UEFA Nations League matches.
  • La Roja are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with the Czech Republic, winning five times.
  • Excluding penalty shoot-outs, Spain have lost only two of their last 27 games.
  • They have avoided defeat in nine of their last 11 UEFA Nations League matches, winning six of them.
  • Czech Republic have never drawn away in the competition, winning three and losing four.
  • They have lost the last three of those games on the road without scoring a goal.

Line-ups

Spain: Unai Simón; Carvajal, Eric García, Iñigo Martínez, Alonso (Jordi Alba 78); Soler (Gavi 59), Rodri, Koke (Sergio Busquets 78); Asensio (Sarabia 72), Morata (Ferran Torres 59), Olmo

Czech Republic: Mandous; Zima, Brabec, Jemelka; Coufal, Sadílek (Král 30), Souček, Zelený (Kalvach 78); Pešek (Tecl 78), Kuchta (Jurečka 59), Černý (Hložek 59)

Group 2 Live now

Played P Won W Draws D Lost L For Against Goal difference Points Pts
ESP Spain
Playing now
4 2 2 0 6 3 3 8
POR Portugal
Playing now
4 2 1 1 7 2 5 7
CZE Czech Republic
Playing now
4 1 1 2 4 7 -3 4
SUI Switzerland
Playing now
4 1 0 3 2 7 -5 3

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 League A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.