Dani Olmo impressed again as Spain eased to a 3-1 win over Kosovo in a FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Group B tie on Wednesday.
Spain dominated the proceedings pretty much from the get-go, but were frustrated by Kosovo’s outlook, as the visitors sat behind the ball. The closest a player came to scoring in the early running was when Jordi Alba forced Samir Ujkani into a save. Just past the half-hour mark, though, the deadlock was finally broken thanks to a moment of brilliance from Dani Olmo.
After receiving the ball from Jordi Alba, Olmo found himself in some space before curling the ball into the top right corner. Just a minute later, Spain were two to the good, as Ferran Torres was released by Pedri before producing a fine finish from an acute angle to make it 2-0. Kosovo, though, were handed a glimmer of hope after an incredible gaffe by Unai Simon.
This allowed Besar Halimi to pounce and score with a brilliant long range effort. However, all the Kosovo hopes were dashed shortly after, as Gerard headed in from Koke’s corner delivery to seal the deal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Luis Enrique’s men, as Spain climbed to the top of Group B standings.
Unai Simon: 4/10
The reason why Kosovo had a glimmer of hope in the game, Simon made that inexplicable error that allowed Halimi to pounce and take aim at goal from around 40 yards out. Not forced into a single save, but that moment was quite odd from the Athletic Bilbao man.
Marcos Llorente: 6/10
Llorente nearly made a heroic goal-line block from Besar Halimi’s long range effort, but missed the ball by a whisker. Otherwise, the Atletico Madrid man was largely solid and completed 5 tackles while winning 5 of the 6 duels he contested. Was more sure of his positioning this time around but was not a major outlet down the right flank.
Eric Garcia: 6/10
There was not a lot of defending that Garcia had to do on Wednesday, with the Manchester City defender instead playing out from the back for the most part. Completed 94 percent of his attempted passes while making a couple of important clearances and tackles each. Solid enough.
Inigo Martinez: 6.5/10
A solid effort at the heart of Spain’s defence, from Martinez, who has stepped up well after the error against Greece last week. The 29-year-old made one critical clearance in the first half and held his own otherwise, winning 3 of the 4 duels he contested. A fine option for Enrique ahead of the Euros.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
In typical fashion, Alba was a constant outlet down the left flank for Spain, which enabled him to create a number of openings. The first player to test Kosovo captain Samir Ujkani in goal, Alba also grabbed the assist for Dani Olmo’s goal, although that strike was all Olmo. Not made to sweat at all at the back.
The player who saw the ball more often than any other player in the game, Koke utilised possession in expertly fashion as well, impressively completing 96 percent of the 116 passes he attempted. To add to that, he played a joint-game-high 4 key passes as well, while even grabbing the assist for Gerard Moreno’s goal. With 4 tackles and 3 interceptions completed, he absolutely bossed midfield.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
A solid customer in the middle of the park for Spain, Busquets held the fort superbly while being very precise with the ball at his feet (82/87 passes completed). In addition, no other player managed more key passes (4) in the game than the veteran midfielder while he opened up play smartly with some well-stitched long passes. Fine effort, this.
Pedri 👉 Ferran Torres
Spain are moving 🔥 pic.twitter.com/uwZR6l9g12
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 31, 2021
Olmo only slightly shaded Pedri to be the best player in the game. The teenage prodigy, though, was in his elements in the middle of the park, threading open some fine chances, including one that set up Ferran Torres for the second goal that Spain scored and played 3 key passes in all while misplacing just 4 of the 53 passes he attempted.
Ferran Torres: 7/10
For a second successive game, Torres was decisive, with his goal effectively being the match-winner for Spain. While Torres was sloppy in possession at times, losing the ball an alarming 23 times, he constantly tried to make things happen and even produced a fine finish to make it 2-0. Missed a couple of fine openings, though, he will aim to improve his finishing going forward.
Alvaro Morata: 7/10
The player who tried and tried and tried without having much joy come his way. Morata was thwarted a number of times, either by Ujkani or by a Kosovo defender. A bit wasteful on the ball, Morata lost the ball 16 times, but he was a fine target man for those behind him.
Dani Olmo: 8/10
A player who seems to be nailed down his spot in the side with every passing game, Olmo was a major threat for Kosovo from the left flank with his driving runs and an eye for a pass. Played a joint-game-high 4 key passes while retaining an excellent 90 percent pass completion rate. The moment of the game, though, was the finish for his goal, as he curled in his effort from the edge of the box.
No player created more chances than Dani Olmo in the first half against Kosovo (3).
He also had three shots and scored the opening goal. pic.twitter.com/GP3HuwKBAR
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 31, 2021
Fabian Ruiz: 6/10
On for Pedri, Ruiz kept things simple after being introduced, progressing the ball well in the final third without creating any significant openings. Not called into action a great deal in the defensive phases.
Gerard Moreno: 7/10
On for Morata, Gerard Moreno made his opportunity count with a fine headed effort from Koke’s set-piece delivery to round off the win for Spain.
Sergio Canales: N/A
On for Olmo, Canales did not have much time to make an impact, especially with the game already won.
A late introduction, Rodri helped see the game out without much of a fuss.
Sergio Ramos: N/A
The Player to Watch in our preview, Ramos was only a late substitute as he helped see the game out late on.