Mikel Oyarzabal scored early to help an underwhelming Spain secure a scrappy 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League on Saturday, keeping them top of their group.
The Real Sociedad forward snatched the only goal of the game in the 14th minute after Switzerland tried to play the ball out from the back but failed miserably, leaving Oyarzabal with a simple finish.
Barcelona’s teenage talent Ansu Fati and Oyarzabal spurned further chances as Luis Enrique’s side failed to add to their lead.
Spain lead League A Group 4 with seven points from three games, two points ahead of Germany, who beat Ukraine 2-1.
Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had picked an experimental side with plenty of youth and Spain did enough to win but were far from their best at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium at Real Madrid’s training ground.
Switzerland carved out the first chance of the game but keeper David de Gea reacted well to deny Loris Benito, before the visitors handed Spain the lead on a platter.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer misplaced his pass to Granit Xhaka because of Spain’s high press, with Mikel Merino nipping in to steal the ball and feed Real Sociedad team mate Oyarzabal, who finished with ease.
“The goal isn’t their mistake, it’s our good play,” said Luis Enrique. “It was great work by our team that was rewarded by a goal.”
Fati, who became Spain’s youngest ever goalscorer in their previous Nations League outing against Ukraine in September, might have doubled the lead early in the second half but his strike was blocked.
Oyarzabal then hit the side netting from close range and Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Adama Traore made his first competitive appearance with a bright cameo from the bench after making his debut on Wednesday against Portugal.
“In the final third we weren’t able to finish and we have to keep working on that, me especially,” said Traore. “But we leave here with the three points.”
Germany beat Ukraine for first win in four games
Germany scored once in either half to beat hosts Ukraine 2-1 in the Nations League on Saturday for their first win in four matches and their first ever victory in this competition.
Matthias Ginter put them ahead in the 20th minutes after good work from Antonio Ruediger, and Leon Goretzka pounced on a mistake by Ukraine keeper Georgiy Bushchan to head in their second goal four minutes after the restart.
Despite having the rested Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig players back in the line-up, the Germans, who did not win a game in the 2018/19 edition, were far from their best.
In a sloppy first half they repeatedly lost possession, allowing Ukraine to quickly counter attack before Ginter’s goal settled their nerves.
Having conceded equalisers in each of their three previous matches, Germany were eager to add to their lead on Saturday and carved out several good chances.
But Bushchan had a good day making a string of saves before he let the ball slip out of his hands, allowing Goretzka to score in the 49th.
He then again was on hand to stop them scoring, superbly palming a Serge Gnabry shot wide.
A 77th minute penalty by Ruslan Malinovskyi woke up the 20,000 crowd allowed in the Ukrainian capital’s Olympic stadium but the Germans managed to protect their lead despite desperate late attacks from the hosts.
“Obviously I am happy we won but we could have been leading 3-0 or 4-0,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
“In some cases we gave up the ball too easily. When we were 2-0 up they were tired and we should have played more counter attacks maybe. But overall we were solid and did not allow them too many chances,” he said.
On Tuesday Ukraine host Spain while the Germans, who had not won a single game in the inaugural 2018/19 competition, take on Switzerland.
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