Spain equalled the record EURO win to reach the round of 16 at Slovakia’s expense.
Spain booked their place in the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 in style as they ended the hopes of Slovakia with a win that equalled the competition final tournament record margin of victory.
Martin Dúbravka saved an early Álvaro Morata penalty but the keeper’s freak own goal broke the deadlock. Aymeric Laporte made it 2-0 on half-time and Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres produced impressive finishes before another own goal. Slovakia’s goal difference means they will not progress as one of the four best third-placed teams; Spain ended second due to Sweden’s dramatic defeat of Poland and face Croatia in the round of 16 in Copenhagen on Monday.
Match in brief
Spain needed a win definitely to go through without relying on Poland not beating Sweden but despite a bright start it was ominous when, after Jakub Hromada brought down Koke in the box, Morata’s 12th-minute penalty was saved by Dúbravka.
However, on the half-hour the Slovakia goalkeeper ended up palming a dipping ball into his own net after a Sarabia drive had spun high off the crossbar. Just before half-time it was 2-0, Gerard Moreno pulling wide and crossing for Laporte to loop a header out of Dúbravka’s reach.
The third followed early in the second half, a flowing move finding Jordi Alba on the left and his low cross coming to Sarabia, who with his body turning away from goal, steered the ball in. Ferran Torres was introduced on 66 minutes and almost immediately made it 4-0 with a cheeky flick through his legs from Sarabia’s cross. It was soon five as another substitute, Pau Torres, made an instant impact, his header rebounding off Dúbravka and turned into his own net by Juraj Kucka.
Star of the Match: Sergio Busquets (Spain)
“A perfect game: brought balance to the team in attack and defence. An example of positioning and football intelligence.”
Ginés Meléndez, UEFA Technical Observer
Rastislav Hríbik, Slovakia reporter
In their last two tournaments Slovakia managed their group decider in extraordinary fashion (against Italy in 2010 and England in 2016), but this time they made mistakes that are fatal against a team like Spain, who thoroughly deserved to win. Slovakia just could not create chances and although Štefan Tarkovič tried to change the game by introducing Ondrej Ďuriš and Stanislav Lobotka at half-time, it was too late.
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter
This wasn’t only what Spain was waiting for, what they needed – it was quite good. There were flaws: before La Roja were, literally, handed a goal we saw them stuttering a little. Chances created, chances spurned – like day follows night. But once the verve was in them they were attractive to watch and the self-assurance oozed. Luis Enrique, increasingly questioned, got things plumb right. The tournament favourites might not be quaking, but La Roja are on the rise again.
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: “Not every single thing came off for us but I’m satisfied because we made the fans enjoy themselves and my players are very happy with what they did. The atmosphere was superb and we now can’t wait for the next match. I warned everyone that when the cork was out of the bottle the champagne would flow and that’s what happened here. But we have things to improve, for sure.”
Sergio Busquets, Spain captain: “This is the way we want to continue performing. It’s going to bring confidence and morale. Now we have to play the World Cup runners-up. Hopefully we play at this level to get one step closer to our objective.”
Aymeric Laporte, Spain defender: “I guess time stopped a little bit when the ball was dropping towards me for my goal and my head was filled with thoughts about where to try and head the ball to beat the keeper. I’ve said it from the start: this is a dream for me and I’m very happy indeed.”
Štefan Tarkovič, Slovakia coach: “It is difficult to play against such opposition. You need to be well organised, you need to play well in defence and we didn’t do that. To make such mistakes against Spain is simply not acceptable. We changed certain things and the formation as well but, after the third goal, it turned into an exhibition match for Spain.”
Martin Dúbravka, Slovakia goalkeeper: “The first goal was my fault. I will be regret this for a long time, but it’s happened. Then came the second and it was tough for us to the end of the game. Spain that controlled the game much more easily after that.”
Ondrej Duda, Slovakia midfielder: “More than our elimination, I regret this margin of defeat. That isn’t how we wanted to say goodbye to the tournament. We need to forget about today´s game quickly.”