Mon, 05 Dec 2022

LISBON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Alvaro Morata's late strike saw Spain edge Portugal 1-0 on Tuesday to qualify for the semifinals of UEFA Nations League A.

Before the match in Braga, a draw would have been enough for Portugal to advance, as they led Group 2 with 10 points, followed by Spain with eight points.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos made two changes to the team that had beaten the Czech Republic 4-0, with Diogo Jota and Joao Cancelo replacing Rafael Leao and Diogo Dalot.

Without speedsters Leao and Joao Felix, Santos' team employed a defensive mindset.

On the other hand, Spain coach Luis Enrique reshuffled his lineup after the 2-1 loss to Switzerland, with Jose Gaya, Dani Carvajal, Koke, Rodri, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata all starting.

The first half was characterized by Spain's domination of possession, while Portugal were waiting for opportunities to counter.

The first real chance came for Portugal after 20 minutes when Jota's cross found Cristiano Ronaldo, but the veteran star did not manage to dominate.

In the 32nd minute, Jota received a shot from Bruno Fernandes inside the area, but his effort was saved by Unai Simon.

After the interval, there was a noticeable change in approach from Spain, who needed a victory to advance. In the 79th minute, Ruben Dias' cross almost led to a goal but defender Carvajal snuffed out the chance.

In the 88th minute, Carvajal threw the ball to the far post, Nico Williams flicked it on, and striker Morata forced the ball into the net.

With that goal, Spain beat Portugal away for the first time since 1934 to join Croatia, Italy, and the Netherlands in the semifinals.

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