Spain hand Germany worst defeat, Ronaldo remains scoreless, France beat Sweden

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Germany’s only five-goal loss in a competitive game had been West Germany’s 8-3 defeat to Hungary at the 1954 World Cup group stage. West Germany went on to beat Hungary in the final. In non-competitive matches, Germany had also lost 6-0 to Austria in a friendly in 1931.

Nations League

Spains Alvaro Morata, right, runs to celebrate after scoring during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Spain and Germany in Seville, Spain, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti)Spain handed Germany its worst defeat in a competitive match on Wednesday, winning 6-0 to advance to the Final Four of UEFA’s Nations League.

Ferran Torres scored a hat trick to lead Spain to the historic victory in the decisive match in Group 4.

Germany’s only five-goal loss in a competitive game had been West Germany’s 8-3 defeat to Hungary at the 1954 World Cup group stage. West Germany went on to beat Hungary in the final. In non-competitive matches, Germany had also lost 6-0 to Austria in a friendly in 1931.

The victory ended a three-match winless streak for Spain, which hasn’t gone four games without a win since the late 1980s.

“It’s important to get back to winning with a great performance like this,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said. “We have to enjoy this great result.”

Last year, Spain failed to advance to the Final Four after conceding late in a match against Croatia.

The Germans would have advanced with a draw, but Spain dominated early and took control with three goals in each half. The visitors had only two total attempts, none on target.

“This is definitely one of the worst defeats of my career,” Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said. “It hurts.”

Spain got the convincing win despite playing most of the match without captain Sergio Ramos, who missed two penalty kicks in the 1-1 draw at Switzerland. Ramos had to be replaced by Èric García just before the break with an apparent muscle injury in his right leg.

“Historic night that will help us grow as a team,” Ramos said on Twitter after the match.

Spain constantly threatened up front, forcing Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make a few good saves to keep the visitors from going into a bigger hole. Spain squandered several counterattack chances throughout the match in an empty La Cartuja Stadium in Seville.

“To put this type of pressure on a team like Germany, you need great collective work by everyone, in attack and defense,” Luis Enrique said. “We made them suffer and kept them from threatening.”

Álvaro Morata opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a header into the top of the net off a corner kick taken by Fabián Ruiz, who came off the bench after an early injury to Sergio Canales.

Torres added to the lead in the 33rd with a shot from close range after Dani Olmo’s header ricocheted off the crossbar, and five minutes later it was Rodri’s header off a corner that gave the hosts a 3-0 halftime lead.

Torres added to the rout in the 55th and 71st minutes after other fast counterattacks by the hosts, and Mikel Oyarzabal closed the scoring in the 89th.

Morata had a goal disallowed for offside in the 23rd.

“We saw a great version of Spain,” said Rodri, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We could have scored even more. It was 6-0 but it could have been more.”

Ronaldo scoreless in Nations League, Croatia avoids demotion

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo vies for the ball with Croatia’s Luka Modric ,left, and Croatia’s Josip Juranovic, right, during the UEFA Nations League match between Croatia and Portugal at the Poljud stadium in Split, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)Croatia avoided relegation in Group 3 of UEFA’s Nations League despite a 3-2 loss to defending champion Portugal on Tuesday.

Croatia needed to better the result of Sweden, which lost 4-2 to group-winner France in the other match. Portugal was already eliminated and had secured second place.

Croatia played with 10 men from early in the second half after one of its midfielders was sent off.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo was held scoreless for the second consecutive match to stay seven goals shy of the 109 scored by former Iran striker Ali Daei, the only other male soccer player to surpass the 100-goal milestone for a national team.

One of Ronaldo’s best chances to move closer to the all-time international record was a first-time header that missed wide.

Mateo Kovacic opened the scoring for the hosts in the 29th minute and netted an equalizer with a shot from outside the area in the 65th after Portugal had rallied with goals by Rubén Dias in the 52nd and João Félix in the 60th. Dias netted the winner in the 90th.

Croatia midfielder Marko Rog was sent off with a second yellow card for a foul on Ronaldo just before Portugal’s second goal.

Giroud scores 2 as France beats Sweden 4-2 and relegates it

 UEFA Nations League France’s Olivier Giroud, background, scores his side’s third goal during the UEFA Nations League match between France and Sweden at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, northern Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)Striker Olivier Giroud scored twice to move closer to France’s national team’s scoring record as the Nations League group winner beat Sweden 4-2 and relegated it on Tuesday.

Giroud’s tally of 44 goals puts him seven behind France and Arsenal great Thierry Henry’s record of 51.

“It always feels like he has to prove himself, he scored two good goals,” France coach Didier Deschamps said, praising Giroud. “We’re not talking about a player who has never done anything up until now. People are often too hard on him.”

Unbeaten France had already booked its place in the Final Four after ensuring the top spot in League A, Group 3 with a 1-0 win at defending champion Portugal last Saturday.

France ended with 16 points from a possible 18 and Deschamps praised his players for doing so in a considerably tough group.

“I’m a very factual person. No other team has done or will do better. We had the World Cup runner-up (Croatia) in our group and the reigning European champion (Portugal),” he said. “Not everything was perfect, so we’re not going to brag, but you also have to appreciate what we’ve done. We finished with panache, bravo to my players.”

 

Croatia stayed in the top league despite losing 3-2 to Portugal at home, meaning Sweden finished bottom on goal difference behind the Croats.

The Swedes took the lead at Stade de France in the fifth minute when midfielder Viktor Claesson broke into the area, skipped past two tackles and poked a shot that clipped defender Raphael Varane and wrong-footed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Marcus Thuram — son of famed France defender Lilian Thuram — was involved in both goals as Giroud equalized in the 16th and right back Benjamin Pavard put Les Bleus ahead in the 36th.

After Giroud started a counterattack from midfield, the ball was fed to Thuram down the left and his pinpoint cross was adroitly turned into the bottom left corner by Giroud.

Thuram then showed great footwork to weave past three defenders in the area and spin around a fourth. Although he lost control of the ball, it broke to Pavard on the right of the area and he drilled it firmly into the bottom left with the outside of his foot.

Giroud, who has hardly played for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, should have scored when he headed Pavard’s cross from the right wide when unmarked in the 53rd.

But he made no mistake six minutes later, meeting substitute Kylian Mbappé’s cross from the left with a diving header. Then Giroud almost set up Antoine Griezmann, directing a pass down with his chest which the Barcelona forward blazed over the crossbar in the 75th.

Substitute Robin Quaison gave the Swedes hopes of rescuing a draw when he bundled in left back Pierre Bengtsson’s cross with two minutes left in regulation time.

With every Sweden player, including the goalkeeper, camped around the goal for a last-gasp corner, France cleared the ball and Kingsley Coman ran through from midfield to roll the ball into an empty net from 40 meters out with the game’s last kick.

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