Late goal rewards poor Spanish performance in Georgia

Tiflis (Georgia) March 29 (IANS) Dani Olmo’s 92nd-minute goal gave Spain a 2-1 away win over Georgia after it had looked as if their stuttering start to their World Cup qualifying campaign was going to be another poor performance.

The RB Leipzig forward, who came on as a halftime substitute, scored the winning goal from around 30 meters, although Georgia keeper, Giorgi Loria should have kept his shot out after getting both hands on the ball.

Spain coach Luis Enrique made seven changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home to Greece on Thursday night with the only goalkeeper, Unai Simon, Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres and Alvaro Morata repeating in the starting 11. In contrast, Bryan Gil and Pedri made their first starts after coming on as second-half subs during the week.

Spain looked disjointed in the first half after so many changes and Unai Simon produced an excellent save to deny Guram Kashia’s powerful header after a corner.

The Spanish were creating very little in attack, with the home side working hard to close down spaces and break at speed every time they win the ball, with winger Otar Kiteishvili a constant threat down the left for Georgia.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia rewarded Georgia’s efforts when he put them ahead in the 43rd minute with a left foot show that gave Simon no chance following another counter-attack.

Luis Enrique was clearly unhappy with what he’d seen in the first 45 minutes, with Inigo Martinez and Dani Olmo replacing Diego Llorente and Bryan Gil at the break and Thiago Alcantara on for Fabian Ruiz 10 minutes into the second half.

A minute later, Ferran Torres equalized Spain with a simple tap-in at the far post after Alvaro Morata failed to contact a Jordi Alba cross.

Spain was controlling the ball, but failing to test Georgia keeper, Giorgi Loria and Luis Enrique’s last two changes saw Marcos Llorente and Mikel Oyarzabal get into the action.

Llorente helped set up Pedri with a powerful run to the goal-line with five minutes left to play, but a packed Georgia defense blocked the midfielder’s shot and it looked as if Spain were headed for their second consecutive draw before Del Olmo sealed the result.

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