Spain beats Norway to reach Euro 2024 with Scotland

Spain's Gavi scored in the 49th minute and ensured the three-time European champions would be at next year's tournament in Germany.
Spain's Ferran Torres and Norway's Birger Meling fight for the ball. (Photo | AP)
Spain's Ferran Torres and Norway's Birger Meling fight for the ball. (Photo | AP)

OSLO (NORWAY): Spain booked their place at Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win over Norway on Sunday, also enabling Scotland to qualify from Group A.

Young midfielder Gavi fired home early in the second half to help the 2008 and 2012 European championship winners progress to the tournament in Germany next summer, with two games to spare.

Norway, who last appeared at a major tournament in Euro 2000, and their star striker Erling Haaland can now only potentially qualify through play-offs, but need to hold onto third and hope Serbia qualify from Group G to be eligible.

Spain barely allowed Haaland a sniff all night long on a frustrating night for Norway, who sit five points behind their opponents and Scotland, joint top, with only one match remaining.

"From front to back we were really compact, we practically didn't let (Haaland) receive a single ball comfortably," Spain defender Dani Carvajal told TVE.

"They barely created any chances against us, we're going home happy with a ticket for the Euros."

Gavi was made to wait for several minutes before finding out whether his goal counted or not, as VAR analysed it slowly.

"I think today we were very good and in the end it bore fruit," said Gavi.

"(They were checking the goal) I think for (Alvaro) Morata being offside, I don't know if he was, but in the end they gave it and I'm happy for that."

Spain convince

Spain were on top throughout and thought they had taken the lead after 20 minutes when Stefan Strandberg diverted the ball towards his own net and Morata greedily hammered home from almost on the goal line.

However, the strike was ruled out for offside against Morata -- Carvajal's lofted ball forward was aimed at Fati before Strandberg's intervention and if he had left the ball it would have been an own goal.

Gavi eventually fired Spain ahead in the 49th minute after a hectic scramble in Norway's area, pouncing when Mikel Oyarzabal's shot was deflected into his path.

After VAR finally ruled Gavi's strike valid the 19-year-old Barcelona midfielder was able to celebrate his fifth goal for his country in 25 appearances.

Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard sliced an effort wide at the other end as the hosts made a rare foray forward, and Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon saved comfortably from bright teenager Antonio Nusa.

Morata had a shot cleared off the line in the final stages but was offside anyway as Spain sought a second goal to clinch progress.

It did not come but it did not matter, as a flat Norway could not muster danger during eight minutes of added time, apparently resigned to their fate, while Spain broke into celebrations at the final whistle.

De la Fuente's side started their qualifying campaign with an early defeat by Scotland which called the coach's surprise appointment into question, but Nations League victory in June and straightforward qualification for the Euros since have convinced.

"It's one of the matches in which we've been most satisfied in general terms ... the team had great maturity," De la Fuente told a news conference.

"Today I was calmer because I saw the team was very sure of itself."

The coach said the result was what Spanish football needed after a tumultuous period, in which federation president Luis Rubiales resigned over his forcible kiss on the lips of Women's World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso.

"This is good for everyone so that we think more about football," added the coach.

"It sparks hope, it sparks joy, Spanish football is always in the elite and now we'll get our fans excited again."

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The New Indian Express