Ramos, Morata on the spot as Spain cruise past Sweden - GulfToday

Ramos, Morata on the spot as Spain cruise past Sweden

Sergio-Ramos

Spain’s Sergio Ramos scores from the spot against Sweden during their Euro 2020 Group F qualifying match on Monday. Associated Press

Madrid: Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata both scored penalties as Spain beat Sweden 3-0 on Monday to keep their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying intact.

Spain struggled to break down a determined Sweden defence at the Santiago Bernabeu until Ramos struck in the 64th minute after Sebastian Larsson blocked Marco Asensio’s cross with his hand.

Two late goals in two minutes then gave the score a deceptively comfortable look as Ramos deferred a second spot-kick to Morata, who had won the foul, before Mikel Oyarzabal curled in a third.

Victory means Spain stay top of Group F, now five points clear of second-placed Sweden, with four wins out of four.

Their advantage reflects an impressive return to form after a disappointing performance in the UEFA Nations League.

Dani Parejo and Fabian Ruiz both impressed in midfield but Asensio and Isco lacked spark again in the final third, with Rodrigo Moreno also ceding ground to Morata in the central striker spot.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had little to do in goal but his third consecutive start suggests he is now not just an alternative to Manchester United’s David de Gea but the side’s preferred keeper.

Sweden’s disciplined defence carried them to the World Cup quarter-finals almost a year ago and Spain only really rattled them for five minutes in the opening half.

Even when Spain had the ball in the net it was crossed off, incorrectly, for offside, after Rodrigo tapped in Parejo’s cutback.

Albin Ekdal was also fortunate not to concede a penalty when he placed both hands on the shoulders of Ramos but referee William Collum was not so tolerant after half-time.

Asensio’s cross was blocked by the outstretched arm of Larsson for a clear spot-kick, leaving Ramos to whip right-footed into the bottom corner.

Sweden had not been without chances of their own, Ludwig Augustinsson firing a shot into Ramos before Robin Quaison hit straight at Kepa.

But they capitulated late on as Spain added two in the 85th and 87th minutes. First Morata, on for Asensio, drew a foul from Filip Helander with an aggressive run into the box and, after Ramos deferred, struck the penalty into the corner.

Then, Oyarzabal, who had replaced Rodrigo, darted inside Augustinsson and curled a brilliant shot between Olsen’s hand and the far post to wrap up a hard-earned win.

Agence France-Presse