Spain snatch Nations League semi-final spot with Portugal victory

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Spain snatched qualification to the UEFA Nations League finals as Álvaro Morata scored a dramatic 88th-minute winner to defeat Portugal in Braga.
Considering Spain were in must-win territory, there was an evident lack of urgency from the visitors in a timid first-half display, something that has dogged them throughout the group stage.

Pablo Sarabia saw an early effort blocked, but Luis Enrique’s men failed to register a shot on target before the break and became more and more open at the back as the half progressed.

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes’ impressive passing range allowed him to take advantage of the free space, as he found Diogo Jota with a glorious ball, but the forward’s effort was brilliantly denied by Unai Simón.

Moments later, he had a go himself, using the time he had been allowed to line up a piledriver from range. The crowd thought the ball had nestled in the top corner, but it had only found the side netting.

Fernando Santos’ men continued to threaten, and Jota fed Cristiano Ronaldo in on goal in the opening stages of the second half, but Simón was equal to his driven effort.

Rúben Dias was next to be denied as his close-range effort was cleared over the bar by Dani Carvajal. Spain still weren’t offering enough and appeared short on desire as they chased a place in the UNL finals.
A raft of substitutions added impetus to the Spanish performance, but there was still nothing to trouble Diogo Costa in the Portuguese goal.

Finally, the visitors opted for the direct path to the goal, and that earned them a dramatic winner. The cross to the back post was nodded across goal by Nico Williams, allowing Morata the simplest of tasks to tap in and earn his side qualification to the UNL finals for a second consecutive campaign, claiming a first competitive away victory in Portugal for over 80 years in the process.

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