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Spain get campaign underway with a victory over Norway

Spain outplayed Norway for much of the match and went ahead through Rodrigo in the first half. Norway levelled from the spot, but a Ramos panenka penalty gave the hosts the win.

Spain v Norway live online
Denis DoyleGetty Images

Spain 2-1 Norway: match report

Spain kicked off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign on Saturday in Valencia with a win over Norway with goals from Rodrigo and Sergio Ramos in either half.

Luis Enrique made a number of changes to the squad and team that he experimented with in the Nations League. Dani Parejo was back and so was Jesus Navas with Asensio, Rodrigo and Morata leading the line in attack.

Luis Enrique said "this is not a place for experiments" ahead of the game but he is so new in the job and with the players he named, there was always going to be an element of experiment.

The movement and some of the fluidity in attack is a testament to Luis Enrique's coaching but while Spain were dominant in possession and had multiple chances, they wasted too much for the manager to be truly happy.

After the opening 15 minutes, it seemed a matter of how many Spain wanted to score. Rodrigo and Morata were buzzing around the penalty area and with Ceballos and Asensio changing their positions frequently, they had Norway at sixes and sevens. Alba on the left and Navas on the right weren't helping matters for the guests as it all felt like a red blur at times.

Rodrigo opened the scoring after 16 minutes when Ceballos spun and sent a pass out to Alba. He connected to Asensio before a return pass sent the left-back free. He clipped it towards goal and Rodrigo was on hand to send the ball into the back of Jarstein's net.

After that, it remained a red blue of movement but with so many wasted chances. Morata tried every header in the book from the bullet header to the glancer and still couldn't find any luck.

The second half continued in the same fashion with some champagne football and some flat ale finishing.

As time ticked by and the chances kept being wasted, it felt inevitable that Norway would get a chance.

They did when Inigo Martinez decided to give second half substitute Stefan Johnsen a bear hug in the penalty area. Josh King stepped up and crowed Spain's wastefulness with the finish.

As if playing to the crowd as the Mestalla, Spain picked it up a gear and when Morata jumped a poor backpass to Jarstein and got hauled down by the keeper, Ramos stepped up and panenkaed his 15th goal of the season down the middle to give Spain back their deserved lead.

They had chances after that too but Asensio chipped over for their best effort even though they didn't need a third. Late on, there were debuts for Sergio Canales and Jaime Mata as he continues to bring this squad through his own stages evolution.

They face another test on Tuesday against Malta and if they can create even half the chances, and convert 5% of them, they should remain on course to finish top of the group after a good start to the qualifying campaign.

Spain vs Norway live online: latest news

Spain vs Norway live online: match preview

Spain's qualifying for Euro 2020 takes centre stage tonight, as the national team welcomes Norway to Valencia's Mestalla stadium. Luis Enrique has some points to prove for a side for whom much is expected, and questions are already being asked about the vast rotation policy seen in the early days of his tenure. The visitors arrive knowing that they will start as underdogs, but are a side that are always capable of causing an upset. They will also have a young man in their ranks who many in Spain will be keeping a close eye on.


The manager who took over following last year's eventful World Cup for Spain has selected 41 players in his six games to date. Of these, 32 have taken to the field. In comparison, his predecessor did not use more that 51, and that was over 20 matches.

The normally reliable Sergio Busquets should take his place in the heart of the midfield and there will be familiarity at the back with the likes of David de Gea, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba. After that, more experimentation may be in order with the young Real Madrid pair of Ceballos and Asensio pushing for a start. Atlético's Álvaro Morata hasn't been in blistering form but could well be tasked with finding the goals or, at least, causing a nuisance for the Norway backline.


Lars Lagerbäck will aim to use his vast experience to get the better of a more talented opposition. During the Nations League we saw a Norway side focused on a solid defence, managing clean sheets in four of their six matches. Despite less attacking prowess, they did score seven goals in those games, helping them to top spot and promotion to League B. One of their forward thinking players, Martin Odegaard, will be getting plenty attention from the sidelines.


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