Soccer: Spain’s Morata takes the last winner to seal the place in the World Cup.
SEVILLA – Spain qualified for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar by beating visiting Sweden 1-0 thanks to a goal from substitute Álvaro Morata at the end of the second half on Sunday (14 November).
Spain, which won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, finished atop Group B with 19 points, four ahead of the second-place Swedes, who could still qualify through the playoffs in March.
Morata scored in the 86th minute when he deftly lifted the ball over Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen after a fierce long-range shot from Dani Olmo got in his way.
Spain, who played in front of 52,000 fans at the sold-out La Cartuja Stadium, had never lost a home game in the World Cup qualifying rounds and kept their record intact in Seville.
They had only lost four of the 52 games in the city.
It was a nervous affair and although Spain dominated the game, the Swedes created the best chances through dangerous Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak on the counterattack.
After playing the full 90 minutes in Sweden’s 2-0 loss to Georgia on Thursday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic started on the bench and had little impact when he came in for the final 20 minutes.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw, which would have been enough to lead Spain to the final, when Olmo’s shocking shot bounced off the wood for Morata, who had entered just before the hour, and put the ball in calmly. net.
It will be Spain’s 16th appearance in 22 World Cups and the last time it failed to qualify was in 1974.