Mikel Oyarzabal got the winning goal as Spain continued their unbeaten run to move on to seven points at the top of Nations League Group A4.
Spain stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches across all competitions as they beat Switzerland 1-0 in Madrid on Saturday to remain in charge of Group A4 in the Nations League.
Luis Enrique’s men had impressed without finding the net in their friendly draw with Portugal last time out, but Mikel Oyarzabal – the winger chosen to lead the line against the Swiss – provided the decisive touch in the 14th minute to leave La Roja with seven points from three games.
Although Switzerland threatened first, it was a rare attack in an opening half dominated by Spain, who opened the scoring soon after through Real Sociedad star Oyarzabal’s well-taken finish following a defensive mishap by the visitors.
Spain crafted several opportunities to extend their advantage in the second period, and while they were ultimately unsuccessful, the away side’s lack of potency in attack meant one goal was enough.
3 – @mikel10oyar has scored his third goal for @sefutbol against Switzerland, first as starter. He also scored against Romania in his last European Championship Qualifiers game. Future. pic.twitter.com/Qs9nuOWcHP
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 10, 2020
Switzerland should have taken an early lead, but David de Gea did brilliantly to palm Loris Benito’s effort around the post after a low cross found its way through to the left wing-back.
Spain capitalised less than two minutes later.
The visitors tried to play their way out from the back but Yann Sommer’s pass to Granit Xhaka was poor and exacerbated by the captain’s slip, with Mikel Merino subsequently pouncing and nudging to Oyarzabal – back in the team after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies prior to the Portugal game – to convert.
Sommer intervened to good effect just before the half-hour mark, though, producing a vital save after Ferran Torres met Jesus Navas’ cross with a towering header.
Spain continued to spurn chances after the interval – Ansu Fati was wasteful twice in quick succession, as he was first thwarted by Nico Elvedi and then somehow failed to turn home from point-blank range with his second opportunity.
Sergio Ramos then led penalty appeals with 22 minutes to go, though they were unsurprisingly unsuccessful as the Spain captain’s volley struck an arm from close range.
Switzerland did finally enjoy some pressure in the latter stages, but De Gea remained largely untested.
What does it mean? Spain still not quite convincing in the box
La Roja were not exactly bereft of creativity here – they managed to find their way through the Swiss backline on several occasions, but they were not clinical.
Of their 12 shots, only two were on target, and one of those was of course the goal, which only came about due to haplessness in the visitors’ defence.
While Gerard Moreno and Rodrigo Moreno are both fine players in their own right, it seems Luis Enrique still needs to be won over given a winger in Oyarzabal was given the nod in a central role here.
Merino an effective presence
While one La Real star got the winner, another impressed in midfield. Merino was his typical blend of craft and guile here, as he played a couple of key passes (tied for the game high), including an assist, while he also made two tackles, two interceptions and gained possession 14 times, more than anyone else in red.
Sommer pays the price
In the end, Sommer’s lapse in concentration in the first half proved decisive as it gifted Spain the lead and it was always going to be tough clawing it back.
Spain go to Ukraine on Tuesday in their second of this month’s Nations League double-header, while Switzerland face Germany in Cologne the same day.