Spain and Portugal played to a 1-1 draw on June 2, their first match in the UEFA Nations League group stages. Portugal forward Ricardo Horta scored the late equaliser. He earned them a 1-1 draw against Spain in the opening match of their Nations League campaign at the Estadio Benito Vilamarina on Thursday. Spain started lively in the group A game in the second leg when midfielder Gavi had an outside-the-box opportunity in the third minute, but his effort was blocked. Alvaro Morata made it 1-0 for Spain following some excellent building up play by Gavi and Pablo Sarabia.
Spain opened the scoring midway through the first period when Alvaro Morata made it 1-0 25 minutes later. Neither side was able to generate much of an opportunity, and the match went to halftime with Spain leading Portugal 1-0. As expected, Spain started the game by taking control in possession, with Portugal sitting back in order to damage Spain in counter-attacks. Cristiano Ronaldo replaced Otavio shortly after the hour mark, with Portugal going full steam ahead in the attacking phase.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruben Neves came on for Portugal, with Dani Olmo and Koke making appearances for Spain. Pepe made an early challenge in the match, being pulled into his own half by a high line from Spain and the ball being in their possession. Fernandes had a mixed start to the game, as he looked good in possession, but some positioning errors saw him let in Spanish players with ease. The Spanish captain controlled the pace of the game from midfield, as he dictated the game to him.
Both teams’ supporters were able to fully enjoy a tense game that had led the Spanish national official site to breakdown when tickets went on sale last week. Spain’s triumph on penalties at the 2012 European Championship was the last good outcome in the match, and their past two friendly games were scoreless. In the following ten days, both teams will play three additional Nations League games. Spain visits Switzerland in between two games against the Czech Republic, whilst Portugal hosts the Czechs and faces Switzerland twice.
Nevertheless, it was hidden man Ricardo Horta who drew Portugal back into the game in the 82nd minute with a goal. It was his first strike for his country, and it came at an important moment. As defences and goalkeepers locked down, neither side could make any additional advances. Spain and Portugal split the points in the first encounter, which ended 1-1.