Carlos Soler gave Spain an early lead, but Sweden came back to inflict Spain’s first World Cup qualifier defeat in 28 years.
Sweden stunned Spain in their FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier at the Friends Arena in Solna on Thursday night. It was the Iberian side’s first defeat in a World Cup Qualifier since 1993. The defeat puts a dent in Luis Enrique’s side’s hopes of securing automatic qualification while also dropping them from the top spot to second in their group.
Sweden have nine points from three games while Spain, on the other hand, have seven from four games. Carlos Soler got Spain off to a great start with a goal in the fourth minute. The joy was short-lived, though, as Alexander Isak equalized within a minute to draw Sweden level. Viktor Claesson put the Scandinavians ahead before the hour mark and they held on for a famous win.
Spain had the bulk of the possession but were unable to make it count. Luis Enrique’s side were missing a number of players but were, on paper, still the better team. A lack of killer instinct, however, cost them dear and the onus is now on them to bounce back from the defeat.
The return fixture will be played on 14 November at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville. It is fair to say that the tie now takes a new role of significance for the 2010 World Cup winners. We now take a look at how Spain’s players fared against Sweden on the night
SWEDEN 2-1 SPAIN
WE ARE MASSIVE pic.twitter.com/khAfMSbTLh
— Siavoush Fallahi (@SiavoushF) September 2, 2021
Unai Simon: 6/10
A largely quiet night for the Spanish goalkeeper who kept an in-form David de Gea at bay to start the game. He was alert to prevent Dejan Kulusevski, Filip Helander and Emil Forsberg but could do little about the two goals he conceded.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Solid but uninspiring. The Chelsea skipper showed intent and put his experience to good use and deserves credit for handling Emil Forsberg well. Almost forced Sweden into scoring an own goal in the second half only for an alert Robin Olsen to prevent it.
Eric Garcia: 5/10
Easily beaten by Dejan Kulusevski in the build-up to Sweden’s winner. Also struggled against the lively Alexander Isak, who had a field day against the high Spanish line. Almost played in Robin Quaison for Sweden’s third in stoppage time.
Aymeric Laporte: 6/10
The better of Spain’s two centre-backs. The Manchester City star also found it difficult to handle Alexander Isak. Luis Enrique’s high line did little to make matters easier for him.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
The marauding Barcelona star provided the early cross for Carlos Soler’s volley. Ran up and down the flank as Spain saw the majority of the ball. Had little joy in attack apart from his early assist.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
The most experienced of Spain’s midfielders, Busquets was, as usual, neat and tidy. Crisp with his passing, he kept the ball moving. His error at the edge of the box in the fifth minute was capitalized on by Alexander Isak, who drew Sweden level.
Kept things simple and the ball rolling. Tried to contribute to the Spanish attack but little was forthcoming from those ahead of him.
Carlos Soler: 6.5/10
It took the debutant just four minutes to score his first senior international goal for Spain. An impressive outing for the player who could be set to feature more regularly in the games to come. Taken off for Brais Mendez late on.
5 – Carlos Soler's last five matches:
🅰vs Brazil 🇧🇷 in the #Tokyo2020 final
⚽vs Getafe in LaLiga
⚽vs Granada in LaLiga
⚽vs Alavés in LaLiga
⚽vs Sweden 🇸🇪 in his debut for Spain 🇪🇸
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 2, 2021
Ferran Torres: 6/10
Tried his best but failed to prise open the Sweden defence. Forced Olssen into a fine save
Gerard Moreno: 4/10
A goalscoring machine for Villarreal, he looked lost on the field against Sweden. Tripped over himself with the goal at his mercy when the score was 1-1. Not the veteran’s most memorable night for Spain.
Alvaro Morata: 4/10
Arguably Spain’s ace striker, Morata never got going. Completely shackled by both Victor Lindelof and Philip Helander on the night. He was deservedly pulled out for Pablo Sarabia in the 75th minute.
Come on for Sergio Busquets in the 75th minute. More of the same as the Barcelona star but with more urgency. Added fresh legs to a tiring Spanish midfield.
Marcos Llorente: 6/10
Replaced his Atletico Madrid teammate Koke in the 75th minute. Lacked the innovation to get past a determined Swedish backline.
Brais Mendez: N/A
Came on for Carlos Soler in the 85th minute. Flicked on a dangerous ball into the penalty area but could not find a teammate to capitalize.
Adama Traore: 6.5/10
Showed intent and more directness after he came on. Has the potential to be a game changer off the bench for La Roja. Was one of the prominent names for Spain as they piled on the pressure in the final minutes. Unfortunately for him, Sweden held on for a deserved win.
Pablo Sarabia: 5/10
Did little of note.