Spain Miss Chance to Secure Euro 2020 Qualification After 1-1 Draw with Norway

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2019

Norway's midfielder Stefan Johansen (C) vies for the ball with Spain's midfielder Saul Niguez (L) and Spain's midfielder Dani Ceballos during the Euro 2020 qualifying football match Norway v Spain in Oslo, Norway on October 12, 2019. (Photo by Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo by STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/NTB Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Spain's perfect run in Group F came to an end on Saturday after Norway held them to a 1-1 draw. La Roja had won their first six matches of UEFA Euro 2020 qualification and took the lead through Saul Niguez, but Joshua King hit back with a last-minute penalty.

Norway had the better chances before the break, but Spain dominated the possession battle and turned that advantage into a goal early in the second half. The win seemed almost certain until the hosts were handed a late penalty, which King converted.

Captain Sergio Ramos became the nation's all-time caps leader in the draw, overtaking former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas in his 168th appearance.

The late drama means Spain now lead the group by five points with three matches left to play. 

La Roja had reason to celebrate before the match even began, with Ramos reaching his milestone:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Sergio Ramos has now made 168 appearances for the Spanish national team, becoming his country's all-time most capped player. A legend for club and country. 🇪🇸 https://t.co/BJRIrHlQt3

The visitors took control of possession early, but Norway had an early penalty appeal denied after a slight tug on King's shoulder.

While Spain neatly passed the ball around, first-half chances were almost non-existent. The Norwegian defence did a fine job locking down their box, drawing praise from the Guardian's Ewan Murray:

Ewan Murray @mrewanmurray

Anyone watching Norway v Spain whilst assuming Scotland will just skip past the Norwegians (if required) in March.... 😳

Rodrigo nearly made contact with a sharp cross, but Spain barely threatened. At the other end of the pitch, Kepa Arrizabalaga had to make a fine save to deny King the opener, and Ramos made a block to keep out the striker as well.

Saul aimed a header over the bar late in the half, and Martin Odegaard almost got a shot off after a Norwegian corner caused panic in the Spain defence. Norway finished the half on top and perhaps should have opened the scoring:

Jan Aage Fjortoft 🏳️‍🌈 🇳🇴 @JanAageFjortoft

Norway the better team vs Spain first half Creating more chances too.. Love to do a tweet like this

Their inability to score came back to haunt them early in the second half, when Saul put the visitors ahead. The midfielder fired a clever shot past Rune Jarstein after the defence failed to clear their lines.

Goal @goal

GOAL! Spain take the lead against Norway! ⚽️ Saul Niguez finds the net with a great strike from outside the box 👏 #NORSPA https://t.co/zhMiK0TClX

Norway tried to answer through Odegaard and King, but the latter's header just missed the target.

The introduction of Santi Cazorla added a dash of creativity to Spain's midfield, and he combined well with Fabian Ruiz, who hit the cross bar with a great strike. 

Ole Selnaes put Kepa to work with a shot, and King later couldn't keep his nerve and fired the ball over the bar.

Ruiz missed a late chance to put Norway away for good, and that miss would prove costly. Deep in added time, Omar Elabdellaoui beat Kepa to the ball, and the Chelsea goalkeeper fouled him and allowed King to score from the resulting penalty.


What's Next?

Spain take on Sweden in another qualifier on Tuesday. Norway will also be on the road, against Romania.