SPAIN SECURE SECOND EURO 2020 QUALIFIER VICTORY WITH WIN OVER MALTA

With Luis Enrique absent on the sideline due to family reasons, assistant coach Robert Moreno took charge of Spain as his side cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Malta.

Spain went straight on the attack from kick-off with the majority of possession going their way throughout the whole second half.

The Maltese back five was assisted by the country’s two wide players, John Mintoff and Juan Corbolan who dropped back to offer support, making it difficult for the visiting side to break through.

Saúl had the first real chance for Spain finding himself with space just after 15 minutes, however, the 24-year-old’s left footed shot went just wide of Henry Bonello’s goal.

The midfielder found himself with another chance two minutes later after getting on the end of Sergio Roberto’s pass just inside the Maltese area, but in a similar fashion to his previous strike, Saúl’s shot was fired off target.

The deadlock was broken just after the half-an-hour mark thanks to Atlético Madrid striker Álvaro Morata. 

The 26-year-old controlled the ball with his knee inside the Maltese area following Mario Hermoso’s lobbed passed over the defence. Morata then calmly slotting the ball under Bonello at the near post to give the away side the lead.

In the 37th minute, young forward Kyrian Nwoko gave away a free-kick just outside the Maltese box after fouling the Spanish captain, Sergio Ramos. Marco Asensio failed to produce a real threat from the free-kick firing his shot over.

The last eight minutes of the first half produced no real chances for either side with the whistle being blown on the 45th minute mark following a Spain corner.

Alvaro Morata (Left) outruns Malta’s defender Zach Muscat to open the scoring during the Euro 2020 Group F qualifying football match Malta vs Spain (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

With no changes made to either side at half time, there was a similar start to the second 45 with Spain controlling possession.

Steve Borg was heavily involved in the action early on, giving away a foul just outside the area after colliding with midfielder Saúl.

Ramos stepped up to take the free-kick for Spain however, the Maltese wall did their job blocking the shot and quickly clearing the ball to safety.

Spain continued to pile on the pressure having a number of shots but Bonello made a collection of routine saves to prevent the visitors extending their lead.

The first change of the game came in the 56th minute with Juan Bernat being replaced by Athletic Bilbao star Iker Muniain.

The hour mark saw the Malta goalkeeper pull off a superb save preventing Asensio from finding the back off the net with a low dive. Saúl failed to convert the rebound, again firing the ball high over the crossbar.  

Malta made their first change with Ryan Muscat coming on for Jospeh Mbong in the 64th minute. Spain also switched things up with Saúl being replaced by former Man City winger Jesús Navas.

Navas was quickly involved in the action after Asensio played the 33-year-old down the line to win a corner. Hermoso hit the ground from the corner, appealing for a penalty however, the referee waved play on.

In the 69th minute, Malta’s top scorer Michael Mifsud replaced John Mintoff who picked up a hamstring injury.

Juan Carlos Corballan picked up a yellow card for a foul on Sergio Canales just two minutes lster.

Morata added a second goal for Spain in the 72nd minute after heading home Jesús Navas’ well delivered cross. The Spanish striker was able to produce the power needed to beat Bonello in the Malta goal.

Malta looked like they were through on goal for the first time when Mifsud broke through the Spanish defence as Kyrian Nwoko played a great pass. However, the linesman had different ideas with his flag up for offside.

Spain made their final change of the night 12 minutes before full time with Valencia striker Rodrigo coming on for goal scorer Morata.

Six minutes later, Malta made their last change with debutant Karl Micallef coming on for Jonathan Caruana.

Two minutes later, Spain attacker Canales almost capped his first ever start in a Spain jersey with a goal. The 28-year-old produced a good flick into Sergi Roberto before receiving it back to fire a shot wide.

With four minutes added to the final 90, Spain comfortably saw out the game to secure their second win of the Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign.

Spanish forward Álvaro Morata celebrates after scoring a header past Malta’s goalkeeper Henry Bonello (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

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