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Spain defeat to Switzerland sets up Portugal showdown

AFP . London
26 Sep 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 25 Sep 2022 22:34:33
Spain defeat to Switzerland sets up Portugal showdown
Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji (2R) celebrates after scoring the first goal during their Nations League match against Spain in Zaragoza on Saturday– AFP Photo

Spain’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland on Saturday leaves La Roja needing to beat Portugal away on Tuesday to progress to the semi-finals of the Nations League.

Portugal went top of Group A2 with a comfortable 4-0 win in the Czech Republic as Diogo Dalot struck twice with Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota also on target.

Spain have little time to iron out their flaws ahead of the World Cup in two months’ time and a familiar combination of poor finishing and soft defending from set-pieces cost them against the Swiss in Zaragoza.

“Our first half was as imprecise as any since I’ve been in charge,” said Spain boss Luis Enrique after a first defeat in nine games.

“I can’t remember a match with so many technical errors, especially on the two corners where we conceded goals.”

Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji headed the visitors into a 21st-minute lead.

The hosts responded when Jordi Alba latched onto Marco Asensio’s pass to fire high into the net 10 minutes into the second half.

But moments later another Switzerland corner was not properly cleared, allowing Breel Embolo to bundle in from close range.

Portugal moved two points clear of Spain at the top of the group as they enjoyed a far smoother night in Prague.

Dalot was the unlikely hero as he grabbed his first two international goals.

The right-back found himself in a centre-forward’s position to slot home the opener from close range before Fernandes rounded off a slick team move in first-half stoppage time.

Dalot then curled brilliantly into the bottom corner on his weaker left foot seven minutes into the second period. Jota rounded off the scoring by heading in unmarked from a corner late on.

“The result speaks for itself, we played a great game and we deserved to win,” said Dalot.