In the Nations League, Spain scored a 4-0 home victory against Ukraine in the A division, which started Thursday’s Nations Tournament with a 2-1 victory against Switzerland. The Swiss retaliated somewhat for that defeat by a 1-1 tie against Germany.
In Spain Ansu Fati had already made his international debut last Thursday as a substitute against Germany (1-1), three days later national coach Luis Enrique awarded the youngster of Barcelona a base place. And so did Ukraine.
Less than two minutes had passed when the only 17 year old and 311 day old left entered the enemy penalty area and Sergey Kryvtsov hooked him. The awarded penalty was well spent on Fati’s twice as old team-mate Sergio Ramos, although goalkeeper Andrij Pyatov did get a hand against the captain’s effort.
Record for Fati
Fati himself was almost successful twice after just under half an hour, but his slalom after a short slalom went just wide, while a close-run shot was turned with luck by defender Mykola Matviienko’s back.
The 2-0 came thanks to Ramos again, who beat Kryvtsov in the air and found the far corner. It was Spain’s 23rd goal for the 172-time international. He came on a par with the legendary Alfredo di Stéfano, by coincidence also the namesake of the Madrid stadium where the match against Ukraine was finished.
A few minutes later Fati spoke again. The Guinee-Bissau-born dribbler played himself free and shot from the edge of the sixteen-metre area via the post: 3-0.
Fati became the youngest goalie for Spain ever. He took over the record from Juan Errazquin, who was 18 years old when he scored three goals against Switzerland in 1925.
The battle was fought and that was clearly visible in the game in the second half. Spain, which did not have to worry about entertaining the crowd in the empty stadium, believed it, while Ukraine was unable to make a fist.
That did not stop substitute Ferran Torres from defending badly in the closing stages by punishing the Ukrainians with a flawless volley. It was also for the 20-year-old striker, taken over from Valencia by Manchester City last month, his first international goal in his second match for Spain.
Second base Gosens
Like last Thursday, Germany also played Basle against Spain without the players of Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, who are allowed to breathe some time after their Champions League efforts. Partly because of that, half Dutchman Robin Gosens was also in his second international spot.
Germany, where last week’s Kai Havertz, transferred from Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, was also missing, gained a lead after a quarter of an hour thanks to a slider in the far corner of Ilkay Gundogan.
Julian Draxler and Timo Werner, who will be teammates of Havertz at Chelsea next season, missed an excellent 0-2 chance, while on the other hand Swiss Haris Seferovic failed to restore balance in the game. Benfica’s striker first mowed along the ball in a promising position and popped the post shortly before the break.
After half-time the level of play dropped, but after less than an hour there was still a goal to score. After good preparatory work by Breel Embolo, Silvan Widmer, who outsmarted Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with a hard shot.
In the final stages of the match, Switzerland frantically tried to take the full booty. It also created opportunities, but it didn’t make it to the finish. Ruben Vargas was the closest with his ingenious chopping ball, but the effort lacked the right direction.
Victory for Van ‘t Schip
There was success for national coach John van ‘t Schip, who won a 2-1 victory with Greece in Kosovo. On Thursday his team also finished an away game and Slovenia was held 0-0.
The Greeks now share the lead in Group 3 of Division C with Slovenia, which was the boss with 1-0 Moldova on Sunday evening.
Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kökcü made his debut for Turkey with a base place. He was substituted against Serbia, in a game without goals, after an hour.