Robert Moreno disappointed by Spain draw as Sergio Ramos goes past Iker Casillas

Press Association Sport 09:12 13/10/2019
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Spain head coach Robert Moreno was disappointed with his side’s performance as they were held to a 1-1 Euro 2020 Group F qualifying draw by Norway.

Josh King scored a stoppage-time penalty as Norway fought back after Saul Niguez had given the away side the lead two minutes after the break.

The result, combined with Sweden’s 4-0 victory over Malta, meant Spain’s wait to qualify for next summer’s finals continued as they hold a five-point lead at the top of the table.

Spain head to second-placed Sweden on Tuesday with a point needed to make it through and, in quotes reported by AS, Moreno said: “It wasn’t the game we wanted.

“I don’t have the feeling that they’ve caused us much danger beyond the penalty.

“When a team has nothing to lose these things can happen. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth because it was at the end of the game.

“The message now is that with a draw against Sweden we will qualify, and that’s what we are going try and do.”

Spain captain Sergio Ramos helped keep Norway at bay until the last-minute leveller ruined a clean sheet as he made history by becoming Spain’s most-capped player, passing Iker Casillas with his 168th international appearance.

Real Madrid defender Ramos was booked with 11 minutes remaining meaning he will miss Tuesday’s match.

On Ramos, Moreno added: “Ramos’ record is incredible, and still he has the desire to continue competing and wanting to keep winning titles.

“I want to congratulate him publicly and hopefully he can give us plenty of joy for a long time to come.”

Ramos admitted he was disappointed to only collect a point after breaking the national record but hopes Spain can learn and move on from their mistakes.

He said: “I have a bittersweet taste. I would have liked to beat the record with a victory.

“In the end, being a legend or not is marked by people. Being active, it is difficult to name someone with that word. I enjoy every day. The numbers are there. It will be seen in the future.

“I thank everyone for the support I have felt, from my family, colleagues, coaches…I have enjoyed a wonderful career with Spain. I will be eternally grateful. I still want to win with Spain.

“It was not one of the best games, but we added a point.

“From the results that are not so good, we must learn. Not everything has been positive. That helps us to grow as a team. You have to be optimistic. The last matches have been very good.”

King was delighted with his late equaliser leaving Norway still in contention four points further back in fourth.

King told www.fotball.no: “You have to have balls to take that penalty. It was lovely that it went in.

“The crowd helped us today. They gave us an extra push for the last 10 minutes. We put up a good fight in the first half and raised ourselves the last 15 to 20 minutes in the second half.

“We have everything to play for Romania. We need to focus on ourselves. There are three games left and we have to try to score nine points.”

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Roberto Mancini praises Italy as they book spot at Euro 2020

Press Association Sport 09:07 13/10/2019
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Roberto Mancini praised Italy’s second-half improvement as they booked their place in the Euro 2020 finals with a 2-0 victory over Greece.

The Azzurri knew three points would be enough having won their first six matches but they did not make the breakthrough at the Stadio Olimpico until Jorginho’s penalty in the 63rd minute.

Federico Bernardeschi netted a second from outside the box with 12 minutes to go to make it a job ultimately well done.

Mancini said on gazzetta.it: “All the matches are difficult, Greece did not want to play. In the first half we forced too much play, then in the second half it was much better.

“We’ve always been in a position to work well with everyone from day one. We created a team in a short time. I made the players believe in their qualities, the players are there for me. It’s a team of character that fights and plays, and in the second half we saw it.”

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho added: “It is a fantastic result for what we have experienced. We have worked hard and we deserved to reach this goal. We are really happy.”

The Stadio Olimpico will open next summer’s tournament on June 12, and Jorginho said: “We’re a good group, we’re all going the same way. It’s nice to work like this. I’m sure (the fans) will give us a hand also in June. We will do everything to make our fans enjoy the games by winning.”

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Poor club form could be reason for England's loss to Czechs, says Harry Maguire

Press Association Sport 09:00 13/10/2019
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England’s disappointing defeat in the Czech Republic could have been down to a number of players heading into the international break in poor club form, according to Harry Maguire.

The Three Lions missed the chance to seal qualification for Euro 2020 after slipping to a 2-1 loss in Prague as another poor defensive display allowed the hosts to fight from a goal down to take the points.

Maguire, who became the world’s most expensive defender when he left Leicester for Manchester United for £80million in the summer, has been unable to help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men end a run of poor form which has left the Red Devils 12th in the Premier League.

He was once again paired alongside Everton’s Michael Keane at the heart of England’s defence, with the Toffees enduring an even more painful start to the campaign that has seen Marco Silva’s side lose five of their opening eight games.

Add the fact that Gareth Southgate selected Danny Rose at left-back despite an indifferent run of form at Tottenham and the defence on show at the Sinobo Stadium was not exactly brimming with self-belief.

Asked if there was a lack of confidence among the back-line Maguire replied: “Yes, maybe.

“We bring our club football into international level. It was a difficult game. Don’t get me wrong, we started sloppy. We took the lead in the game but we didn’t deserve to.

“The second half we controlled the game a lot more than the first half but we gave them a sloppy goal to win the game. We do need to improve on that.

“Obviously you are wanting to develop partnerships. Sometimes in international level you can’t really do that.

Southgate

“You have players who aren’t playing for their clubs so they don’t get selected, and you have players that pick up injuries.

“You’ve got to adapt. That’s one of the tricky parts of playing international football, every camp you’re normally playing alongside different players – you don’t want to be – and need to develop new partnerships.

“But listen, there’s no excuses. We need to be better than Friday night. We need to be better going forward. We need to be better on the ball. And we certainly need to be better at keeping the ball out of the net.”

While admitting the performance was not up to task, Maguire refuted claims the defence has been poor in recent England internationals – despite looking shaky in a 5-3 win over Kosovo last month and gifting the Netherlands goals in the 3-1 Nations League semi-final defeat at the start of the summer.

“This ‘run of shipping goals’ I don’t know where it’s come from apart from the Kosovo game,” he said when asked if Southgate had addressed any defensive shortcomings.

“We were 5-1 up in the game and obviously we’d made a mistake early on in giving them a goal. But we were 5-1 up and maybe we took our foot off the gas and have to learn from that.

“We’ve conceded two on Friday and previous to that we’ve not conceded numerous goals so I don’t know where it (the claim they are ‘shipping goals’) has come from apart from the last couple of games.

“We will work hard and try and improve. But shipping lots and lots of goals over the last couple of years we haven’t done.

“It just shows us that we’ve still a lot of work to go. We’re still in a strong position in the group and now we have got to finish the job off.

“We do need to nullify little areas to take into the Euros because if we do manage to qualify, we have to nullify these mistakes.”

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