A rampant Spain side guaranteed themselves a top seeding for Euro 2020 with a comfortable 5-0 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano on Monday night.
The hosts looked in the mood right from the off and had a Jose Gaya goal ruled out for a foul before Alvaro Morata and Santi Cazorla went close.
Fabian Ruiz then opened the scoring on just seven minutes with his first international goal after Ciprian Tatarusanu couldn’t keep out Dani Carvajal’s stinging drive.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed, Romania then had a chance to equalise when Reading striker George Puscas fired straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga after an Inigo Martinez mistake. The visitors also saw a decent shout for a penalty turned down before the floodgates opened.
Gerard Moreno netted his first of the night by delicately heading in the majestic Santi Cazorla’s cross before finishing off a sumptuous team move to add his second and Spain’s third.
Things then went from bad to worse for Romania as Adrian Rus diverted the Villareal forward’s cross into his own net to make it 4-0 before half time. Spain then coasted through the second half before substitute Mikel Oyazarbal rounded off the scoring in injury time.
Here’s 90min’s review of the game.
Key Talking Point
While the ability of Spain’s world class midfield to continually create chances against any team is not in question, whether they have an equally talented centre forward to finish them has been more of a contentious issue.
Robert Moreno has not been afraid to try different options in the role throughout his short tenure in charge but he’s thus far failed to find a player willing to take the role by the scruff of the neck.
Alvaro Morata has filled the position for most of this qualifying campaign, but still does not look clinical enough to win a tournament while Rodrigo is not really a natural striker. Paco Alcacer is only a bit part player at Borussia Dortmund, and Diego Costa and Iago Aspas may well have missed the boat on the international stage.
However, in Gerard Moreno they may well have just found the man they were looking for. At 27 years old, he may have come slightly late to the international stage – but he is more than making up for lost time and has been involved in six goals in his three international caps so far.
The Villarreal forward also has eight goals in 13 games in La Liga this season, and with Santi Cazorla, Fabian Ruiz, Sergio Busquets, Saul Niguez, Dani Ceballos and many, many more all competing to create chances for the Spain side, you would back him to get many more in the coming matches.
Robert Moreno may have found the missing piece of the jigsaw in his namesake ahead of Euro 2020 next summer. If Gerard continues this form, Spain will definitely be among the favourites.
Starting XI: Kepa (7); Carvajal (6), Ramos (7), Martinez (5), Gaya (7); Busquets (6), Fabian (7), Saul (6); Moreno (8), Morata (6), Cazorla (9*)
?Substitutes: Oyarzabal (6), Albiol (6), Alcacer (N/A)
STAR PLAYER –
At 34 years of age, Santi Cazorla is the Peter Pan of football. The little magician pulled the strings from the right wing, getting an assist for Moreno’s first, and generally running the game before going off in the 68th minute.
He almost scored a wonderful goal as well, chopping back onto his right foot after feinting to shoot on his left, before curling onto the bar from just inside the box.
Don Santiago Cazorla, ladies and gentlemen.
Santi off to an ovation.
Magician. Best player on the pitch tonight. Does everything well.
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) November 18, 2019
After two years out injured it would have been easy to write off the former Arsenal man, but his comeback since rejoining Villarreal last summer has been stunning.
He is – fitness permitting – nailed on to get a seat on the plane for Euro 2020, and with the Gunners’ current midfield woes, fans will be asking what might have been.
Since being told that he would be lucky to ever walk again, Santi Cazorla has:
-12 goals for Villarreal
-15 assists assists for Villarreal
-Been recalled to the Spanish National Team at 34 years of age
-Scored for his country
-Assisted for his country
We’re so proud of you.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) November 18, 2019
Starting XI: Tatarusanu (4); Benzar (5), Rus (3), Nedelcearu (4), Tosca (5); Baluta (5), Marin (6); Hagi (6), Stanciu (6), Coman (5); Puscas (4)
Substitutes: Mirita (5), Cicaldau (5), Nistor (5)
Spain will now look ahead to November 30 when they find out which nations they’ll be sharing Group E with at Euro 2020.
They will go into the draw as a top seed, and therefore will most likely avoid a tough group. Following the draw, the RFEF (Spanish FA) will start looking for suitable opponents to play in friendlies which will be announced in due course.