Sports Desk, Sep 27 (EFE).- Unai Simon was outstanding in goal and Alvaro Morata broke a scoreless deadlock with two minutes left in regulation Tuesday to give Spain a 1-0 win over Portugal and lift La Roja into the 2022-2023 Nations League semifinals along with Croatia, Italy and the Netherlands.
In other Match Day 6 action, the Czech Republic was relegated to the second tier of the competition, League B, after losing 2-1 to Switzerland, while Scotland and Serbia secured promotion to League A.
Portugal, who began the match needing only a draw to win Group A2, focused on staying compact and looking for chances on the counter and they persisted in that approach even when the home supporters in the stands in Braga expressed their disapproval.
Simon was forced into action in the 23rd minute to stop Ruben Neves and made a spectacular save nine minutes later against Diogo Jota.
And in the second half, the Spain keeper denied Cristiano Ronaldo, prolonging the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s goal drought.
With his side still struggling, La Roja coach Luis Enrique made a triple-change at the hour mark, sending in Pedri, Gavi and Yeremy Pino.
The infusion of fresh legs combined with Portugal’s fatigue to create more space for the visitors on the attack.
The contest was in the 88th minute when Spain’s last sub, Nico Williams, headed the ball across the front to Alvaro Morata, who headed home.
Ronaldo had one last chance for Portugal in stoppage time, but Simon was again equal to the task and Spain won an official match on Portuguese soil for the first time since 2003.
Goals by Remo Freuler and Breel Embolo in the space of a minute put the Swiss up 2-0 over the Czechs after 30 minutes in St. Gallen.
Patrik Schick scored in the 45th minute to narrow the deficit and the Czechs got a chance to draw level when the referee awarded a penalty, but Swiss keeper Yann Sommer stopped Tomas Soucek from the spot.
The Czech Republic also had two shots bounce off the woodwork.
Scotland held Ukraine 0-0 in Krakow to win Group B1 and earn promotion. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored his 50th international goal as Serbia beat Norway 2-0 to claim the top spot in Group B4 and a ticket to League A. EFE dmg-jv/dr