Spain U21 1-0 Iceland U21: match report
Fabian’s long-range strike secured a narrow victory for Spain Under 21s against their Icelandic counterparts in a turgid match in Murcia.
The victory moves Spain top of Group 2 with three victories from three, as La Rojita look to secure their place at the 2019 European Championship. Spain made it to the final of the 2017 edition of the competition, only to lose out to Germany. Several of the key players from that squad have now moved on, with a lack of cohesion the result.
Borja Mayoral missed two guilt-edged headers in the first half before Real Betis midfielder Fabian took the game by the scruff of the neck after 36 minutes. He received the ball from Dani Ceballos on the edge of the box, took a touch to release the ball from his feet, and hit a vicious shot beyond Sindri Olafsson and in to the corner.
The match followed a hypnotic pattern in the second half. Spain dominated possession and territory, but lacked imagination when faced with a wall of Icelandic defenders.
Spain were almost made to rue their lack of spark in the depths of injury time. Iceland’s captain and talisman, Albert Guðmundsson, caused panic with a teasing free-kick from the left flank.Spain half cleared, but a clumsy challenge by substitute Alfredo Pedraza granted Guðmundsson a second chance to deliver. He found the head of Julius Magnusson, who glanced the ball narrowly side of the far post.
Albert Celades’ side move top of the group, but they will need to be more incisive on Tuesday evening against Slovakia.
Spain U21 vs Iceland U21: as it happened
Fabian's first-half strike is enough to secure three points for La Rojita, who had to withstand late Icelandic pressure in Murcia.
90'+5' Gudmunsson to swing it in from the left...
90'+4' Last chance saloon for Iceland with a long throw-in... cleared. But they come forward again and win a corner!
90'+3' A late chance for Iceland as Gudmundsson causes panic with a delivery from the left. It's eventually cleared after a goalmouth scramble, but Pedraza then commits a foul out on the other touchline. Gudmundsson's cross is inviting, and Magnusson glances a header within a whisker of the post.
90'+1' There will be four minutes of added time.
90'+1' Spain sub: Fornals on for the lively Oyarzabal.
88' Maffeo gets sticks in an important foot as Iceland surge in to the box.
82' Spain sub: Marc Gual of Sevilla replaces Mayoral.
82' Unai Nuñez shoves Gudmundsson over as he chases down a speculative ball over the top. It was probably a foul, but the Iceland captain's theatrical face-grabbing reaction was rather OTT.
81' Ten minutes remain and Spain could do with closing this match out with a second goal. Iceland have barely threatened in this second half, but they've shown that they're capable on the counter.
79' Rodri times his run well and meets Oyarzabal's corner at the far post. The Villarreal midfielder heads the ball in to the ground, taking the sting out of it and allowing the 'keeper to claim.
78' Spain sub: Pedraza, Alavés' left-wing steam engine, replaces the goal-scorer Fabian.
74' Þorsteinsson is fouled by Soler and can't take a free-kick quickly because the Spain players are in the way. He protests a little too much that the Spanish haven't retreated the necessary yardage, and goes in to the book himself.
73' Soler nips inside from the left, and with his left foot he sends the ball ballooning over the target and towards the Mediterranean.
71' Over in the World Cup play-off in Croatia, Luka Modric has put the home side ahead against Greece from the penalty spot. You can follow that match here.
69' Karlsson replaces Haraldsson for Iceland.
64' Oyarzabal is cleaned out by Gudmundsson in the box, but manages to just about stay on his feet and square the ball. Iceland poke the ball behind for a corner after a goalmouth scramble. The referee put his whistle to his lips when the contact came in on Oyarzabal, but didn't whistle as it became clear he was staying on his feet. For me, it should be a spot kick regardless.
62' Rodri meets Oyarzabal's corner (Spain have had eight and Iceland zero) with a combination of head and shoulder. There's a dandruff joke in there somewhere. Flakey contact? Maybe. Anyway, it goes over.
60' Plenty of Spanish players are tampering with the wall as Dani Ceballos begins his run-up. But that doesn't matter as the Madrid midfielder shoots well over from the edge of the box.
59' Alfons Sampsted is booked, but it's mistaken identity from the referee. Axel Andresson was the player who bodychecked Mayoral on the edge of the box.
54' Lovely feet from Ceballos to nip past his marker and flash a shot towards goal. It flies behind, via the back of Hans Viktor Guðmundsson, and Spain fail to make anything of the corner.
51' Superb chance for Iceland to draw level. Gudmundsson scampers down the left wing and Haraldsson is free in the middle, screaming and gesturing wildly for the ball. Gudmundsson undercooks his square ball, allowing Vallejo to dive in and clear the danger.
50' Just wide from Ceballos! The No.10 drops his shoulder, jinks inside, and bends a shot just the wrong side of the post. It looks like it took a slight touch as the referee signals for a corner. Iceland clear.
48' Iceland can't have had more than five touches of the ball so far this half. Spain have begun dominantly.
46' The second half is underway!
The teams are filtering back out for the second half.
Spain are in the lead in Murcia courtesy of Fabian's long-range effort. La Rojita are unlucky not to be further ahead. Borja Mayoral had two good chances to score with his head.
45' Soler chips a lovely pass in to the path of Mayoral, who can't quite bring the ball under control with his thigh. Still, the Real Madrid striker retains possession and sets up a shot for Dani Ceballos. Olaffson spills it, but Hans Viktor Guðmundsson is there to pick up the pieces.
44' Þorsteinsson trips Soler, the referee puts his whistle to his lips, and Soler will swing in a teasing cross. Vallejo stretches for it at the far post but his hamstrings are not quite supple enough and the ball goes out for a free-kick.
40' Anderson brings the ball out for Iceland, relieving the pressure, before falling under the challenge of Rodri. Iceland will be content to make it to half time one goal down.
36' GOOOOOOL! It needed something special to break the deadlock, and Fabian provides that spark of quality. The Betis man receives the ball from Ceballos on the edge of the box, set himself, and unleashes a vicious shot in to the corner.
34' Þorsteinsson runs through middle and almost latches on to Haraldsson's ball from the right. Simón edges all the way out to the very front of the penalty box, and the ball just runs through to him. The game has opened right up in the last few minutes. Iceland are willing to commit men forward when appropriate.
33' Mayoral fires wildly over from the left channel.
30' Another clear-cut chance goes a-beggin' for Spain. Ceballos threads a really intelligent ball through to Soler, wrong-footing the defence in the process. Soler tries to find the far corner but his contact is too thick and the ball bobbles wide of the post. It feels like the goal is coming...
29' Oooft! Fabian swings in a sumptuous cross with his left foot, and meanwhile, Borja Mayoral has peeled away from his marker in the box. The striker flings himself at the ball and send is wide. He needed to hit the target from that position.
29' Soler's cross goes all the way through to Fabian, who is arriving at the far post. The Real Betis midfielder doesn't make clean contact and the ball skids in to the side netting.
26' Iceland clear the ball off the line! A corner swings in from the right and it looks like an Iceland player gets his head to it, sending the ball towards his own goal. The man on the post is Fridriksson, who moves his shoulder towards the ball and then hoofs it clear. Spain appeal for a penalty but the Israeli referee is having none of it. That's probably the correct decision.
22' Borja Mayoral shapes to receive a pass on the edge of the box and then dummies it. He expects a team-mate to be making a run in behind, but there the only person there is the Iceland goalkeeper. The pitch at the Nueva Condomina looks quite bobbly, and that isn't helping Spain settle in to possession.
20' Gudmundsson bundles his way in to the box and is stopped rather abruptly by Vallejo. The Iceland captain looked up and thought about appealing for a penalty... before thinking better of it.
19' 79 percent of possession for Spain so far.
14' Gudmunsson... in to the wall!
13' Iceland are emerging from their shell, and Unai Nuñez is in the book for a high foot planted on the thigh of Haraldsson. The men from the middle of the Atlantic have a free-kick 25 yards out. The captain, Gudmundsson, is over it.
10' Mikael Anderson receives the ball on the right as Iceland bomb forward with 3 vs 3. The No.6 winds up for a shot, but the angle is acute and it goes straight in to Simón's arms at the near post. If he had looked up, he would have spotted Haraldsson free at the back stick.
9' Ceballos pirouettes in the centre of the park to escape the close attention of Mikael Anderson. Very elegant from the Real Madrid man.
8' Iceland are really struggling to escape their own third of the pitch. On the rare occasions that they get a foot on the ball, Haraldsson cuts an isolated figure in attack.
6' After a well-worked spell of possession, Borja Mayoral meets Pablo Maffeo with a flicked header just outside the six-yard box. Olafsson sticks out a strong left hand and deflects the ball behind for a corner, which Iceland clear. That was a remarkable save from the Keflavik 'keeper.
4' I like Rodri. He wears his shorts up high like Lee Cattermole. Hopefully, that is where the comparisons end. Spain are dominating possession and territory in the early stages.
2' Faced with a wall of Icelandic defenders, Rodri has a pop from 30 yards out. The ball balloons over the crossbar and in to the maroon and white seats.
1' Dani Ceballos' first pass is as loose as you like. He was looking for Oyarzabal on the right wing, but it runs straight through to Sindri Olafsson in goal for Iceland.
1' Peeeeep! Referee Eitan Shmuelevitz puts his whistles to his lips and the game is afoot.
Albert Guðmundsson shakes hands with Jesús Vallejo in the middle. The Iceland captain plays for PSV in the Eredivisie.
An excerpt from the visitors' national anthem. Rousing stuff.
Iceland's thousand years! An eternal (small)flower with a tear in its eye, that praises its god, and then dies.
The teams are out at the Nueva Condomina and the anthems are underway!
Spain XI: Simón, Maffeo, Nuñez, Vallejo, Aaron; Ceballos, Rodrigo, Fabian; Soler, Mayoral, Oyarzabal.
Iceland XI: Olafsson, Sampsted, H. Gudmundsson, Andresson, Fridriksson; Anderson, Einarsson, Magnusson; Haraldsson, Gudmunsson, Porteinsson.
Buenas noches! A very good evening to you all ahead of La Rojita's match against Iceland.