Reigning-holder Spain overcomes Russia at Teddy

The Spaniards dominated Russia throughout their first Group B match, but had to wait until the 82nd minute to score the winner.

June 7, 2013 00:46
1 minute read.
ALVARO MORATA (left) celebrates his goal with Spanish teammates

spain soccer team celebrates 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Spain began its title defense with a tight 1-0 victory over Russia in their European Under-21 Championship opener at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on Thursday night.

The Spaniards, who claimed the title in 2011 with a 2-0 victory over Switzerland in the final, dominated Russia throughout their first Group B match, but had to wait until the 82nd minute to score the winner.

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Thiago Alcántara’s free-kick was steered into the back of the net by the head of debutant Álvaro Morata to give the defending champions an ideal start to their campaign.

Spain entered the tournament as a clear favorite to lift a second straight title after coach Julen Lopetegui named an experienced squad, which boasts five players who took part in the successful 2011 campaign, namely Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, FC Barcelona’s Thiago Alcántara and Martín Montoya, plus Iker Muniain of Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal CF’s Diego Mariño.

A recent debutant for the senior Spain team, Málaga’s Isco, along with fellow full international Thiago, are also part of the star-studded squad, which outclassed the Russians on Thursday. Spain registered 20 attempts at goal to Russia’s three while having 72 percent of the total possession.

Nevertheless, Russia’s containment strategy frustrated the Spaniards for most of the night, until substitute Morata secured the victory.

The 20-year-old Real Madrid forward, who scored two goals in 12 La Liga appearances this past season, came on for Muniain in the 63rd minute and timed his jump to perfection to head in the winner.

The Group B match between the Netherlands and Germany ended after press time.

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