(Updates with match action)
International Sports Desk, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- A rightfooted shot on goal by Dani Olmo in the 92nd minute prevented a second setback for the Spanish national soccer team on Sunday in Tbilisi, Georgia, handing the 2-1 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifier win win over the local team to the Spaniards.
Luis Enrique’s boys were not yet on the board at the half, although the Georgian squad’s 20-year-old Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had tallied on a nice set-up by Otar Kiteishvili just a minute before the intermission. Yet when play resumed it did not take the Spaniards to even things up on a shot by Ferran Torres in the 55th minute after Jordi Alba sent the ball his way, the goal being his fifth in six starts in national team action.
And there things remained as the clock counted down until – concerned that they would notch another 1-1 draw in Group B action, the first one coming at home against Greece in their opening match last Thursday – it was Olmo in the right place at the right instant to put the team ahead, thus giving La Roja four points in their two qualifying matches to date.
Enrique had changed seven of his 11 starters for this match, trying to find a solution leading to a “W,” and among the changes was putting Ferran Torres and Bryan Gil on the wings, giving responsibility in the encounter to the youngest players.
Pedro Porro, currently on loan to Portuguese league leaders Sporting from Manchester City, made his debut on the pitch, while Barcelona midfielder Pedri and Gil – who is on loan this year at Eibar from Sevilla – started, having hit the pitch as substitutes against Greece.
Meanwhile, Unai Simon – with Athletic Bilbao – was in the net once again doing yeoman’s work.
Georgia played an athletic match in the first half, trying for a first victory in under their new coach, Willy Sagnol.
The win continues Spain’s nigh-unbelievable streak, with the squad seeing no losses now in 65 World Cup qualifiers going back a remarkable 28 years, when they were defeated by Denmark in march 1993.
The two national teams currently find themselves in Group B, alongside Greece, Kosovo and Sweden.
Spain next goes up against Kosovo in Seville on Wednesday.
Georgia: Loria; Kakabadze (Chabradze, m.79), Dvali, Kashia, Guiorbelidze; Kankava, Gvilia; Lobzhanidze (Shengelia, m.70), Kiteishvili (Beridze, m.70), Kvaratskhelia (Kvekveskiri, m.79); and Zivzivadze (Kvilitaya, m.62).
Spain: Unai Simon; Pedro Porro (Marcos Llorente, m.65), Eric Garcia, Diego Llorente (Iñigo Martínez, m.46), Jordi Alba; Busquets (Oyarzabal, m.73), Pedri, Fabian (Thiago, m.54); Ferran Torres, Bryan Gil (Dani Olmo, m.46) and Morata.
Referee Radu Marian Petrescu of Romania yellow-carded Georgia’s Zivzivadze and coach Sagnol, along with Spain’s Diego Llorente and Porro. Shengelia was booted in the 93rd minute for a hard foul on Pedri.
The match was played at the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi before 15,000 spectators.