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Spain 1-0 Sweden: Morata's goal sparks jubilation in Seville

Alfredo Relaño reacts to Spain's 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Sweden on Sunday, as Luis Enrique's men booked their place at Qatar 2022.

Soccer Football - World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group B - Spain v Sweden - Estadio de La Cartuja, Seville, Spain - November 14, 2021 Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

The reward of scoring the goal that Spain yearned for, one that will be remembered throughout the years, went to Álvaro Morata, who celebrated it in a manner befitting the moment. It’s a goal that makes up for the heartache he suffered at the same stadium at this summer’s European Championship, when, as Spain struggled on the poor pitch at La Cartuja, he was the fall guy, becoming the subject of internet memes and general mockery. All that will feel a little further away now for Morata. Latching onto the loose ball after Robin Olsen had miraculously pushed Dani Olmo’s howitzer onto the bar, he dummied the keeper with his first touch and finished coolly with his second, sparking scenes of unbridled ecstasy in Seville.

Álvaro Morata (left) wheels away after scoring Spain's winning goal against Sweden on Sunday.
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Álvaro Morata (left) wheels away after scoring Spain's winning goal against Sweden on Sunday.MARCELO DEL POZOREUTERS

Swedes make Spain sweat in Seville

It wasn’t an easy night for Spain, it must be said. Sweden proved a tough nut to crack, sitting deep and waiting for the hosts, defending well as a unit and picking the right moments to launch quick breaks. Emil Forsberg had three clear chances - the first of which Unai López kept out with a brilliant save, but the referee didn't see it and gave a goal-kick - and Sweden gave the impression of a side in control of the situation. Spain lacked cutting edge, playing sluggish football as the minutes ticked by ever so slowly. Only with time running out did Sweden commit men forward, bringing on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and aiming balls at his head with some slightly agricultural stuff. It was at that point, with Spain waiting for the final whistle to come, that Morata’s late strike served to settle the nerves.

Despite the doubts, Spain are getting results

So Spain have qualified for Qatar 2022 without having to go through the play-offs, having won their group by four points. Six victories, a draw and a defeat, 16 goals for and five against. A good final outcome that justifies the post-match elation shown by the players and head coach Luis Enrique, who danced for joy as La Cartuja chanted his name. Months and months of question marks and mistrust were consigned to the past. Semi-finalists at the Euros, runners-up in the Nations League and now through to the World Cup. We’ve frequently looked upon this team with a sense of unease, caused by frequent changes of personnel and call-ups for a host of unfamiliar faces, not to mention Luis Enrique’s controversial personality… But La Roja are meeting their targets and deserve credit for that.