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Spain 1-1 Portugal: 5 talking points as substitute Ricardo Horta strikes late to earn a point for A Selecao | 2022-23 UEFA Nations League

Spain and Portugal played out a high-intensity stalemate in their Nations League fixture
Spain and Portugal played out a high-intensity stalemate in their Nations League fixture
Shubham Dupare

Portugal, starting without Cristiano Ronaldo against Spain in their 2022-23 UEFA Nations League opener, could only manage a 1-1 draw, thanks to a late equalizer from Ricardo Horta.

Although the scoreline might suggest that it was a slow game, it was a highly entertaining affair for the entirety of the 90 minutes on Thursday night (2 June). Portugal started the match brightly, but without Ronaldo leading the line, they lacked the killer instinct in the final third at the Estadio Benito Villamarín in Sevilla.

Super sub 🔥🇵🇹 Ricardo Horta equalises for Portugal ⚽️#NationsLeague https://t.co/npBTk6mKhr

Spain, as expected, were good with the ball and dominated possession. This allowed them to catch their opponents out on the counter-attack in the 25th minute. With the full-backs pushing ahead, A Selecao were exposed at the back.

Gavi led the counter-attack, sprinting down the right flank and then switching lanes with a good pass to Pablo Sarabia. The Paris Saint-Germain attacker squared a pass for Alvaro Morata, who had no defender marking him and calmly slotted his shot into the back of the net.

Carlos Soler had the opportunity to double La Furia Roja's lead, but was denied by Diogo Costa and could only blast his shot on the rebound over the crossbar. After going one goal down, the Portuguese players became a bit impatient as Joao Moutinho and Bernardo Silva picked up yellow cards in quick succession.

The second half started on a similar note, with the two sides showing no signs of any drop in intensity. The visitors looked better after the restart, but failed to create any real chances.

Ronaldo was introduced in the game in the 62nd minute in place of Otavio but found the supply of passes scarce. In the 72nd minute, Ricardo Horta came on in place of the misfiring Rafael Leao and bagged the equalizing goal just 10 minutes later.

It was strikingly similar to Spain's goal, with Joao Cancelo's pace helping Portugal launch a quick counter-attack. He had a quick one-two with Matheus Nunes and then sent in a cross, which was calmly put into the back of the net by Horta.

As the two Iberian rivals shared the spoils at the end of an engaging game, here we take a look at the five talking points.


#5 Portugal need to shift to a three-man defense

Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2

Fernando Santos' men were vulnerable to counter-attacks throughout the game and were only saved due to poor coordination and finishing from the Spaniards. Raphael Guerreiro and Cancelo are both attack-minded full-backs who sprinted forward at every available opportunity.

Joao Moutinho had to drop deep from midfield but was not up for the task of acting as a third centre-back. Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes also did not help out much at the back.

With three centre-backs, the risk is considerably reduced on counter-attacks and maybe they could've avoided conceding Morata's goal.


#4 Spain have now scored in each of their last 15 competitive international games

Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2

The home team opened the scoring in the 25th minute via Morata's strike and had just one more shot on target from a total of 11 shots in the match. They could've found the back of the net on more occasions, but were undone by some poor finishing.

The game marked the 15th successive match in which they found the back of the net. The run stretches back to their EURO 2020 group stage fixture against Sweden last June, which ended in a goalless draw.


#3 17-year-old Gavi puts on a show

Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2

Gavi's rise has been phenomenal and against Portugal, he arguably put in his best performance in national colors yet. The Barcelona midfielder covered every blade of grass on the pitch. Moreover, his energy levels did not drop until he was substituted in place of Marcos Llorente in the 81st minute.

Only Unai Simon (95.2 percent) had better passing accuracy than Gavi in the game, with the 17-year-old completing 94.4 percent of his passes. The teenager played more key passes (two) than any other player on the pitch.

Gavi was crucial in the buildup to Spain's only goal of the game and will be a key player for his country in the Nations League campaign.


#2 Ricardo Horta marks his return to the national team with a memorable goal

Ricardo Horta scored a crucial goal coming on as a substitute
Ricardo Horta scored a crucial goal coming on as a substitute

Portugal were one goal down and needed someone to provide them with some inspiration. While almost everyone bet on Ronaldo to make a difference, it was S.C. Braga winger Ricardo Horta who equalized in the 82nd minute.

Uma boa altura para a estreia a marcar, Ricardo Horta. 😎🇵🇹#VamosComTudo #TeamPortugal #NationsLeague https://t.co/kAaX7JqGj3

It was a special goal for the 27-year-old, who was making his first appearance for the national team since 2014. He could not have picked a better occasion to bag his debut goal.

After coming on in the 72nd minute, it took him only 10 minutes to score the equalizer.


#1 The two rivals share the spoils, again

Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2
Spain v Portugal: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2

Spain and Portugal were evenly matched in the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw. This was the fifth game in a row that ended in a draw between the two sides in regular time (the EURO 2012 semi-final game was won by Spain 4-2 on penalties).

While most of the draws could be dull, last night's fixture was highly entertaining and had its ebbs and flows. Both sides attacked well on the counter but were slightly wasteful in front of goal.

Portugal deserved a point from the game after their much-improved performance after the break. But Spain will be kicking themselves for not sealing the contest early on and missing a couple of good chances.


Also Read: “Just GOAT things”, “True leader” – Fans salute Cristiano Ronaldo for his influence off the bench to help Portugal avoid defeat against Spain in UEFA Nations League game


Edited by Samya Majumdar

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