3 things we learned from Spain v. Poland

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Alvaro Morata scored a goal, and should have scored a second, to help Spain beat Poland, but the 2008 and 2012 European champions instead settled for a 1-1 draw in the sides’ EURO 2020 Group E clash in Seville on Saturday.

[ MORE: EURO 2020 hub ]

The result leaves Spain on two points, 3rd in Group E, ahead of their final-day clash with 2nd-place Slovakia on Wednesday (12 pm ET). Poland have just one point, but a win over Sweden could still see them through if Spain don’t beat Slovakia. Simply put, everything — everything — is still to play for.


Three things we learned: Spain – Poland

1. Morata, the good…: Against the wishes of seemingly every Spanish football fan, Morata was retained in the starting lineup after missing a boatload of chances in La Furia Roja‘s EURO 2020-opening draw with Sweden. The very least that Morata could do to repay the faith that Luis Enrique had shown in him, was to score at least one of the chances that came his way on Saturday. Midway, through the first half, the Juventus striker (on loan from Atletico Madrid) did just that.

2. … and the bad…: For every good thing that happens to you, 100 bad things will then follow the one good thing — that must be how Morata feels the universe operates, because as soon as he finished celebrating his goal, regular service (criminally wasteful finishing) resumed.

3. But, Moreno did no better: You have to give Spain fans this: At least when they want the starting striker out of the team, they’re calling for the backup striker who just scored 30 goals in 30 games during the season just completed. In theory, he’s “a man in form,” “got the hot hand” — whatever your cliche of choice — and will surely, certainly, undoubtedly and inarguably perform better, “if he’s just given a chance.” Gerardo Moreno got that chance on Saturday, and it couldn’t have gone much worse.

Man of the match: Robert Lewandowski  – Enjoy him while you still can — he’ll be 33 in a few weeks and this kind of form can only last so late into a player’s career — because he was simply outstanding, from start to finish.


Morata’s opener came on the game’s first great scoring chance, from absolutely nothing, and it happened in the blink of an eye. Gerard Moreno tried to shoot from the edge of the box but didn’t catch the ball clean enough to trouble anyone, if not for the ball being played straight to the feet of Morata at the far post. Morata was initially ruled offside by the assistant referee, but the VAR overturned the decision and awarded the goal.

Poland looked like equalizing in the 35th minute, as Robert Lewandowski got on the ball on the right flank. Lewandowski worked his way toward the end line before crossing the ball and picking out Karol Swiderski as he made a late, near-post run. Unai Simon was quick to come off his line and forced Swiderski into an uncomfortable shot at a very difficult height.

Seven minutes later, Lewandowski couldn’t believe he hadn’t scored. Tymoteusz Puchacz fired first from outside the box and smashed the front side of Simon’s right-hand post. The rebound, of course, fell to Lewandowski, who appeared to have an easy follow-up for Spain 1-1 Poland, but Simon got back to his feet and re-positioned himself to make a stellar save from point-blank range.

Finally, nine minutes into the second half, Lewandowski and Poland broke through. Kamil Jozwiak served up the cross for Lewandowski to contest in a 50-50 aerial duel. Advantage: Lewandowski.

Just two minutes later, disaster appeared to strike Poland, as Moreno was fouled inside the box. Fortunately for Jakub Moder, who committed the foul, Moreno put the spot kick off the post and Morata sent his follow-up effort wide of the mark, by an astonishing distance, with a wide open net staring back at him.

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