The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

Euro 2020: Spain put four past Faroe Islands to continue winning run

Associated Press Saturday, 8 June 2019, 00:01 Last update: about 17 days ago

Spain made it three wins from their three Euro 2020 qualification matches with a 4-1 victory over Faroe Islands in Friday night's Group F clash at the Torsvollur Stadium.

La Roja were far from their best against the fourth smallest UEFA country by population, but still had more than enough to put another three points on the board.

Spain are next in action at home to Sweden on Monday, while Faroe Islands will be looking to build on what was a positive performance when they host Norway on the same night.

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Spain turned down the chance to train on the artificial pitch in the build-up to the match, with interim head coach Robert Moreno refusing to put his players at risk of picking up an injury ahead of the contest.

It did not take long for La Roja to settle, though, and they made the breakthrough in the fifth minute when Sergio Ramos climbed highest inside the box to head an Isco cross into the bottom corner.

It was always going to be a huge ask for Faroe Islands - listed 102nd in the FIFA rankings - to upset the form book and the home side were really struggling to keep pace with Spain, who continued to find space all over the park.

Ramos smashed one just wide of the home side's post in the 18th minute as another opportunity came and went, but Spain doubled their advantage shortly after when Jesus Navas fired low into the bottom corner to score his first La Roja goal since 2013.

According to the official formations ahead of the match, Spain were in a 4-3-3 but it was more of a 2-5-3 with Navas and Jose Gaya almost playing as wingers due to the away side's complete and utter domination of the ball.

It took until the 29th minute for Faroe Islands to put together a meaningful attack but they managed to score from the resulting corner, with Klaemint Olsen cleverly guiding a header from Odmar Faero into the bottom corner to stun the team in red.

Spain had their third just four minutes later, however, when a strike from Isco rattled the post before hitting Faroe Islands goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson and dropping into the back of the net.

Gestsson made a really smart save to keep out a powerful Santi Cazorla strike in the period that followed, before managing to prevent a deflected Isco cross from finding the back of the net via another own goal.

Spain had more than 70% of the ball possession in the first half, but Faroe Islands deserve huge credit for some bright moments, while Olsen's strike gave the supporters inside the stadium something substantial to cheer.

Diego Llorente replaced Ramos for Spain at the interval, meaning that the captain's armband went to Cazorla, who was outstanding on his first outing for the national team since the latter stages of 2015.

Faroe Islands had a decent opportunity to score a second in the 47th minute when the goalscorer Olsen met a free kick from Hallur Hansson, but the number 11's header just flashed wide of the post.

Arni Frederiksberg then struck over the Spain crossbar from distance four minutes later as Faroe Islands carried a threat in the early stages of the second period.

Marco Asensio was the second player off the Spain bench in the 56th minute as interim boss Moreno looked for more invention during a poor spell for La Roja.

Faroe Islands had another chance just past the hour when the ball broke for the captain Atli Gregersen in a dangerous position, and Kepa Arrizabalaga had to get down to make a smart save for the away side.

Isco then curled over the crossbar down the other end as Spain upped their tempo, but Faroe Islands were still causing problems with high balls into the penalty box.

Spain had their fourth in the 71st minute, however, with Gaya expertly lifting the ball over the onrushing Gestsson after being released into a dangerous position by Asensio.

Diego Llorente had one cleared off the line before Fabian Ruiz and Asensio brought smart saves from Gestsson as Spain chased a fifth, but the final whistle was ultimately blown at 4-1.

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