Sergio Ramos keeps his cool to give Spain a winning start
Barella and Kean score their first international goals as Italy beat Finland
Spain’s defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. Photograph: Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images
Spain 2 Norway 1
Spain captain Sergio Ramos scored another “Panenka” penalty to give his side a 2-1 home win over Norway on Saturday in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier but it was a far from convincing display from Luis Enrique’s side.
Spain made a slick start and took the lead at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium when Rodrigo Moreno volleyed in Jordi Alba’s cross from close range in the 16th minute and continued to dominate proceedings without carving out many clear chances.
Norway, who had done little in attack, levelled in the 65th minute with a perfectly-taken penalty from striker Joshua King, who blasted the ball beyond David de Gea after Inigo Martinez had hauled Bjorn Johnsen to the floor.
Spain earned a spot-kick of their own six minutes later when Alvaro Morata was tripped by Norway goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who Ramos easily deceived by chipping the ball down the middle of the goal to score a “Panenka” for the fifth time this season and eighth in his career.
Italy 2 Finland 0
Midfielder Nicolo Barella and forward Moise Kean scored their first international goals to give Italy a 2-0 win over Finland in their opening Group J fixture in Udine.
Barella, 22, gave Italy the perfect start by scoring with a deflected shot after seven minutes and Kean, the first player born after 2000 to play for Italy, added the second in the 74th minute.
Italy’s first home win since they beat Israel in a World Cup qualifier in September, 2017 gave them an ideal start as they attempt to put their failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup behind them.
Finland clearly set out to frustrate Italy but that plan had to be scrapped when a clearance went straight to Barella who met it first time from the edge of the area and a deflection wrong-footed goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
The visitors came into the game but made little headway and Italy’s Federico Bernardeschi had a penalty appeal waved away before half-time.
Italy survived a major fright in the 65th minute as Robin Lod burst down the right in acres of space and slipped the ball to Teemu Pukki who turned his shot wide from six metres.
Having got into plenty of good positions only to be let down by their final pass, Italy finally got it right when Ciro Immobile slipped the ball through to Kean and the 19-year-old fired a confident finish past Hradecky.
Serie A’s leading scorer Fabio Quagliarella was brought on and the 36-year-old fired a right-foot shot against the crossbar.