‘Dubravka had a nightmare’ – was this the moment Spain ‘got their mojo back’?

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June 24, 2021
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    It was described as going from "heroic to humiliation" and as having "a nightmare".

    Spain knew victory would ensure a place in the knockout stages of the European Championship and progressed with a handsome 5-0 win over Slovakia.

    But they were given a huge helping hand – literally – by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

    Earlier in the contest, the Slovakia number one had further dented Alvaro Morata's fragile confidence with a superb penalty save, before Spain got their opener in incredible fashion.

    Pablo Sarabia rattled the crossbar and time seemed to stand still in Seville as a ball which had looped into the air took an age to fall back down to Earth.

    quoteLuis Enrique was right and 49 million coaches in Spain (the fans) were wrongGuillem BalagueSpanish football expert

    When it eventually did, Dubravka made a huge miscalculation as the ball dropped under the crossbar and the goalkeeper flapped it into his own net.

    "That stroke of luck is maybe the break they needed," Chris Sutton said on BBC Radio 5 Live, referring to Spain's toils in their first two Group E games which were drawn.

    "A quite remarkable own goal. An absolute nightmare for Dubravka," said commentator Alistair Bruce-Ball.

    Sutton added: "It was absolutely horrible for Dubravka. Hero to zero, it was horrible misjudgement. Could that be the spark they have needed in this tournament?

    "Spain were brave and dominant. Spain have their mojo back."

    Spain's place in the last-16 was in doubt heading into the game against Slovakia following draws against Sweden and Poland in which they failed to create enough clear-cut chances despite dominating possession.

    Boss Luis Enrique has suggested in the build-up to the game that his side were ready to unleash, saying they were "like a bottle of cava that we're about to uncork".

    They did so in spectacular fashion with further goals from Aymeric Laporte – the first for his country – Sarabia and Ferran Torres before Jan Kucka inadvertently put through his own net too.

    That fifth goal means there have been a record eight own goals in this tournament so far, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined (8).

    Spain also equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the Euros, only the fifth time a match has been decided by five goals, setting up a last-16 tie against World Cup finalists Croatia.

    Spanish football expert Guillem Balague added on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Luis Enrique was right and 49 million coaches in Spain (the fans) were wrong. He saw the ability of this team to play some of the best football we have seen in the Euros.

    "The fans have been with us, to good variation of attacks, good pressure, good tempo. All in all the best Spain I have seen for a long time."

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