Friday, December 3

Rafa Mir saves ‘La Rojita’ and gets her into the semifinals of Tokyo-2020

  • The national team came back twice against Ivory Coast, the second with a goal from the striker in 93 after conceding 1-2 in 90

  • The Wolverhampton striker, who came out in 91 and signed a hat-trick, seals his place in the semifinals, where the rival will be Japan or New Zealand

In an entertaining match with a end of heart attack and with Rafa Mir as hero, the Spanish men’s soccer team has defeated this Saturday Ivory Coast (5-2) in Tokyo 2020 Games quarter-finals and he has been fully involved in the fight for medals. Luis de la Fuente’s team will be measured next Tuesday (10.00 am) in the semi-finals against the winner of Japan-New Zealand, with the aim of returning to a final that he has played twice with mixed luck: gold in Barcelona-92 and silver in Sydney-2000.

Twice Spain has had to overcome against the Ivorian team, which soon went ahead with a both of Bailly. Dani Olmo tied in the first half, but, despite the Spanish dominance, the scoreboard did not move until the last minute, and it did with the goal of Max gradel that seemed to end the Spanish dream. But then he came off the bench Rafa Mir, the Wolverhampton forward that this season has scored 13 goals yielded in Huesca, and in his first intervention, in the 93rd minute, he sent the game into extra time. Crazy. Nail Bailly’s hands in the area they allowed Oyarzabal score a penalty and in the final stretch of extra time Rafa Mir scored two more goals to leave Spain very close to the podium.

Mingueza injury

The game started crooked for Spain, who lost 8 minutes to Mingueza. The azulgrana relapsed from his injury and forced De la Fuente to align Vallejo lateral, given the low due to suspension of Óscar Gil. In full adjustment of positions, Ivory Coast took the corner and Bailly was smarter than Pau Torres and Eric García, who did not detect his arrival. His shot run over and with little force surprised Unai Simon, who had no time to react.

For the first time, Spain was below the scoreboard in these Olympics. In fact, ‘la Rojita’ had chained 14 games with 0-0 at halftime. The goal of the central Manchester United upset all plans, but Spain did not sink. Ivory Coast gave the ball but, unlike previous rivals, did not give up the attack. His plan was a high pressure and, after recovering, send long balls to the fireproof Max Gradel (33 years).

Unai Simón had to shine in several Ivorian shots, but in return Spain also found holes in the African rear. Especially on the left, where Dani Olmo recovered his best version in a great partnership with Miranda. The tie, however, was born on the right, in a center of Mikel merino to the far post than the lateral Wilfried Singo he wanted to leave his doorman with his chest. But he fell short and Olmo, who had faith in the error, was able to shoot to score 1-1 (m. 30).

One goal disallowed to Oyarzabal at the end of the break he would have done justice to Spain’s best minutes, but the Real forward was in clear offside upon receiving the assistance of Miranda. And just back from the locker room, Asensio shot the crossbar after a crafty Merino stole the ball from the goalkeeper. Pedri, not very participative in the first half, grew at the dawn of the second, but little by little the game was losing steam, according to the option of extra time it was gaining strength.

Madness ending

Oyarzabal was about to sentence in the 89th minute, after receiving a great pass from Olmo, but goalkeeper Ira was able to repel his shot. The ticket to the semifinals escaped from Spain’s hands, which the Ivory Coast grabbed in the next action, a foray of the indefatigable Gradel on the left culminated by a shot that Vallejo played just enough to mislead Unai Simón (m. 90).

The Olympic dream seemed to vanish for ‘la Rojita’, but then a hero appeared with the 9 on his back. Rafa mir He entered the field and the first marked the tie (m. 93). The Ivorian defense failed to clear a hanging ball, which bounced back into the area while three defenders looked at it, waiting for another to clear it. That other one was Rafa Mir, who on the turn hit a whiplash of hope for Spain.

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If the game started uphill for Spain, the extension did it smoothly, after Bailly committed hands in the area when trying to clear a Superman center that was trying to finish Pau Torres. The Venezuelan referee did not indicate anything, but the Spanish players immediately surrounded him demanding the revision and the VAR gave them the reason. Oyarzabal, with a low shot, put Spain ahead for the first time in the whole match (m. 97).

Rafa Mir and Oyarzabal were able to repeat and sentence the duel at the beginning of the second half of overtime, but the key was to resist until the end and avoid an unpredictable penalty shootout. Except for some isolated action, Spain knew how to hold possession long enough to prevent the Ivorians from approaching the Unai Simón area with real options. In a backlash Rafa Mir scored two more goals to seal a triple a sensational performance. The selection is already in the semifinals. Two games ahead. A victory secures a medal; two, the coveted gold.

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