Álvaro Morata left suddenly and the noise level increased, a chance to win this match, a chance at redemption. Instead, there was the kind of reaction that could do him even more harm than before. The Juventus striker sped away, clear and crashed his effort against the crossbar. It was the best of the three or four chances he had in an improved second half from Spain, but none had been taken advantage of and from the stands of the Wanda Metropolitano, a small group of fans began to shout “Morata, how bad are you!” .
The end of the match a moment later, the 0-0 between Spain and Portugal, was greeted with whistles. The reaction was extreme and unhelpful at the end of a match that had been neither sparkling nor frightening for Spain. Nor had it come up with really definitive conclusions. It left doubts and, let’s say, a bitter taste, although few expressed their discontent. You waited all this time to go back to a stadium, all this time to send the national team to the Eurocup, and you do it?
Morata will surely have felt hurt by that, and by the opportunities he did not take advantage of, but he will find a defense in Luis Enrique. His place was rarely in doubt for this game, although Gerard Moreno might have started as a center forward, but others were and some of the initial doubts were resolved with the lineups themselves, if not necessarily what followed. Unai Simón was in goal and Marcos Llorente converted to right back, while Aymeric Laporte had his first game since he got the Spanish passport.
For Portugal, Diogo Jota, Renato Sanches and João Félix were in line behind Cristiano Ronaldo up front. Bruno Fernandes started on the bench and Joao Félix made way for him at half-time without having had an impact.
Almost more significant than the footballers at that stage, and certainly later, was the return of the fans. 14,743 spectators arrived at the Metropolitano, although Luis Enrique could have been forgiven for thinking that some of them must have stayed home when they whistled it before the game and chanted at the end. The Spain coach had left the injured Sergio Ramos out of the squad, and had not chosen anyone from Real Madrid for the first time in the history of the team. selection.
That said, many applauded as well and everyone supported their team during the match; It was a joy to hear this stadium find its voice after such a long silence. That forgotten roar, the waves that follow the work, applause of gratitude with each intervention, how they have been lost. They also booed Cristiano Ronaldo, a pantomime villain whose presence near the ball was announced from the stands.
On one of those occasions he won the corner from which Portugal thought he had gone ahead. However, José Fonte was judged to have got on Pau Torres as he was heading inside. The infrequency of those boos underscored that Spain had more ball although opportunities were few, a Morata cross with the outside of his left boot creating the best of Ferran Torres at the far post. When Renato Sanches ran, Spain was exposed. They are almost fired in the foot as well, another indication of the uncertainty surrounding their goalkeeper when Simon arrives with a volley volley against the rushing Ronaldo.
When the second half began, Torres twice found Morata with clean passes inside the area. On no occasion did Morata bother Rui Patrício, and then he deviated from ten meters. Next, Llorente made a show of his extraordinary athletic ability, throwing himself on the right, taking the ball from Pepe and cutting it. Morata had the first attempt, before Pablo Sarabia’s shot floated. Llorente would repeat the play later, his setback going through Morata’s legs. Later, Pepe was dismissed and Spanish supporters (and presumably Real Madrid) joined the Portuguese in chanting his name.
The subs kept coming, any sense of pattern fading. Jota could have put Portugal ahead, heading over a Ronaldo cross, and almost caught Simon shortly after, but the goalkeeper’s footwork was good this time. Soon after, Ronaldo should have scored a header. Morata then dove but couldn’t reach Jose Gaya’s center from close range. Rui Patrício made a strong late stop off a Ferran Torres header before Morata started one last damaging run.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism