FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Spain held by Greece; Ibrahimovic returns with Sweden

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Spain’s newcomers couldn’t add the spark “La Roja” wanted in its World Cup qualifying opener.

Youngsters Bryan Gil and Pedri González got here off the bench to make their nationwide workforce debut on Thursday however couldn’t hold Spain from being held to a 1-1 residence draw towards Greece.

In the opposite Group B match, Sweden defeated Georgia 1-0 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrange the profitable aim on his return to worldwide soccer after nearly 5 years.

The 39-year-old AC Milan striker got here out of worldwide retirement forward of this summer season’s European Championship, having final performed for Sweden at Euro 2016. He arrange the aim after receiving a move on his chest and scooping the ball into the center of the world for Viktor Claesson’s close-range shot within the thirty fifth minute.

In Granada, Álvaro Morata put Spain forward within the first half however the guests equalized with a penalty transformed by Anastasios Bakasetas early within the second interval in one of many workforce’s few scoring possibilities.

Spain coach Luis Enrique introduced Pedri and Gil on to enhance the workforce’s assault however they couldn’t do a lot to alter the sport’s end result.

“Bryan played well, he created some chances,” Luis Enrique stated. “Pedri was unlucky because they put a man just to defend against him, but he will have more opportunities.”

Spain entered the match closely favored after routing Germany 6-0 within the Nations League in its earlier match. It hadn’t conceded at residence in seven matches, since a 2-1 win over Norway greater than two years in the past in European qualifying.

“We obviously didn’t expect this result,” Luis Enrique stated. “We lacked finesse in front of the goal. It’s my job to make sure that we improve in that area.”

Greece’s gamers celebrated loudly after holding on to the draw on the Nuevo Los Cármenes Stadium.

Morata discovered the online within the thirty third after controlling the ball with his chest and hitting the highest of the online with out letting the ball fall after a pleasant lob move by Koke Resurrección.

Spain appeared in management however defender Iñigo Martínez’s foul inside the world led to Bakasetas’ equalizer from the penalty spot within the 57th.

Spain loudly complained in regards to the penalty name, which couldn’t be reviewed as there isn’t a VAR at this stage of qualifying.

Luis Enrique took captain Sergio Ramos off at halftime. The Real Madrid defender is coming off a knee damage that saved him sidelined for a very long time.

Spain visits Georgia on Sunday and hosts Kosovo on Wednesday. Greece’s subsequent qualifier is towards Georgia at residence on Wednesday. It has a pleasant towards Honduras on Sunday.

Only the group winners mechanically qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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