Spain vs. Finland: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
UEFA 2014 World Cup Qualifiers continued with a wildly unexpected result, as mighty Spain came away with just a 1-1 draw against Finland in Gijon, Spain.
La Roja's signature tiki-taka style was on full display as the team held the ball for nearly the entire match (82 percent). The Finnish back line hunkered down in its defensive third of the field and desperately tried to keep their opponents from getting quality opportunities.
In the first half, the underdogs were successful in keeping Spain out of the back of the net. Finland kept nine or 10 players behind the ball right from the opening whistle, and although the Spaniards poked and prodded, they failed to find a way through in the first 45 minutes.
With that being said, shortly after the second half began, La Roja grabbed a goal through a fantastic header from Sergio Ramos off a corner kick in the 49th minute.
It looked as if Spain would cruise to a 1-0 victory, but in the 79th minute, the Finnish team pushed forward and Teemu Pukki tapped in a cross to equalize.
The Finnish back line then survived a late surge during which the Spaniards relentlessly attacked. La Roja had multiple looks at goal during this stretch, but failed to find the game-winner.
Andres Iniesta, Spain: B-
As is always the case with Spain, there were several world-class midfield maestros on the pitch for this match. Iniesta was the primary creator, and he looked the one most capable of producing the incisive pass to beat a team that was packing the back.
He was able to keep Finland on their heels, but the moments of magic that have come to define his career were absent in this game. It was not his finest day, and he needed to help produce more than one goal in this match.
Teemu Pukki, Finland: A+
It was a very lonely match for the 22-year-old Schalke striker, and he was playing a high-stakes game. He had to wait patiently up top while receiving little or no support in this match.
When he finally did receive a quality opportunity, he made the most of it. His late goal gave his team a truly unexpected point, and he deserves top marks for delivering in an extremely difficult situation.
David Silva, Spain: C+
Iniesta commanded plenty of attention from the Finnish defense, and this left room for Silva to operate. He too is a world-class playmaker, but he failed to prove it in this match.
After going up a goal, Spain seemed completely content to possess the ball in midfield without showing any urgency going forward. Silva will need to be much better for the team's upcoming clash against France.
Niki Maenpaa, Finland: B
Maenpaa could have received an "A" in this match due to his ability to survive an onslaught of attempts on his goal in the closing minutes of the match, but his mark took a hit because he shares some blame for allowing Spain to score.
Spain's lone goal came on a corner kick that was lofted into the box instead of driven across the pitch. This gave Maenpaa the option to be aggressive and punch the ball away, and his decision to stay on his line proved to be costly. Still, the result is fantastic for Finland.
Sergio Ramos, Spain: B
Even though Maenpaa opted not to come out and challenge the corner kick, Ramos still did a fantastic job getting enough power on the header to find the back of the net.
While Ramos' offensive contribution was excellent, his defensive performance could have been much better. He was caught too far forward and he failed to recover on Pukki's goal. Ultimately, his successes and failures balance out and he gets an average grade.
Both teams will have to rest up and recover quickly for another World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday.
Finland will face Luxembourg, while Spain is headed for a showdown with France.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?