Spain coach relieved by late winner, braced for more nervy games

Spain's Ferran Torres celebrates scoring their first goal in the World Cup Qualifiers against Georgia in Boris-Paichadze Stadium, Tbilisi on March 28, 2021
Spain's Ferran Torres celebrates scoring their first goal in the World Cup Qualifiers against Georgia in Boris-Paichadze Stadium, Tbilisi on March 28, 2021
Image: IRAKLI GEDENIDZE / REUTERS

Spain coach Luis Enrique praised his side for snatching a 2-1 win away to Georgia on Sunday but predicted more nerve-shredding finishes in their remaining World Cup qualifiers unless they learn how to break down ultra-defensive sides.

Facing the rare sight of playing in front of 15,000 fans due to relaxed novel coronavirus restrictions in the Georgian capital, Spain enjoyed 75% of possession in the first half but fell behind to a strike from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

They levelled early in the second period through Ferran Torres before substitute Dani Olmo landed all three points with a shot from outside the box in added time.

"The game almost gave me a heart attack. But we got what we deserved in the end and even if it wasn't what we deserved I don't care," Luis Enrique told reporters.

"This will boost our morale but also remind us that every game is going to be a struggle. It's going to be like this forever. When every side sits deep and closes up shop there are no easy opponents."

Spain may have thrashed Germany 6-0 four months ago but they often struggle against lesser opponents and travelled to Tbilisi after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Greece in their Group B opener last week.

Georgia were also happy to cede the ball to Spain but Luis Enrique's side again struggled to find openings against a side sitting deep and they lacked a reference point in attack until Olmo came off the bench after halftime.

Luis Enrique acknowledged his side are far from their flowing best at the moment and complained about the conditions.

"We aren't as sharp as we are normally, that's obvious. The crowd also played their part and Georgia pleasantly surprised me. The ball bounced around like a rabbit and the pitch was poor so if you're not feeling inspired you'll suffer," he said.

"We had a lot at stake and struggled at times, we seemed to lose confidence as the game progressed even though we kept on creating chances."

Spain host Kosovo next and Luis Enrique predicted a similar script to their last two outings.

"Unfortunately it's going to be the same against Kosovo. No-one should think we can relax," he added.

- Reuters

 

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