Spain borders Sweden 1-0 to qualify for the World Cup
Substitute Álvaro Morata scored late when Spain beat Sweden 1-0 on Sunday to qualify for the World Cup for the 12th straight time, which means that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s team is facing the playoffs.
Morata put the ball on a plate for him and instead of hitting it with his right foot it cannoned of his left shin wide of the goal.
The victory in the tense match in Sevilla secured Spain first place in Group B and the automatic place in next year’s tournament in Qatar.
The 40-year-old Ibrahimovic came off the bench in the 74th but could not kick the visitors to victory, which was the only result needed to avoid the playoffs.
Spain finished with 19 points, four more than Sweden, who are drawn against the other nine runners-up and two group winners from the UEFA Nations League. The playoffs will be played in March with the 12 nations playing in three four-team brackets. The seeded teams will have a home match in the bracket semi-final.
Sweden reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup 2018 but did not qualify for the tournament in 2014 and 2010.
Spain has qualified for every World Cup since 1978, winning its only global title in 2010 in South Africa. It was knocked out by host Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup.
Sweden came after a surprising 2-0 loss to already eliminated Georgia and ended up after Spain in the group standings.
Backed by an audience of more than 50,000 at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville, Spain controlled possession but struggled to create many significant point changes. Alexander Isak threatened Sweden the most, wasting one of the team’s best chances in the second half with a shot that went over the crossbar.
Sweden beat Spain 2-1 in September in their first qualifying match but the team had a 0-0 draw in Sevilla in the group stage of the European Championship 2020.
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