Euro 2020: Slovakia helping hand sends Spain to last 16 in a landslide

Slovakia's Martin Dubravka scores an own goal against Spain
Slovakia’s Martin Dubravka scores an own goal against Spain Image Credit: Reuters

A bizarre blunder by the goalkeeper helped Spain find their scoring touch at the European Championship. And it also helped them advance to the round of 16.

An embarrassing own goal by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in the first half put Spain on their way to a 5-0 victory Wednesday, coming only minutes after the hosts had missed another penalty kick and wasted more scoring chances.

Dubravka saved that early penalty from Alvaro Morata but then clumsily knocked the ball into his own net after it ricocheted high into the air off a shot by Pablo Sarabia in the 30th minute.

Dubravka stood just off his line and waited for the ball to descend. He jumped to swat it over for a corner, but the ball veered to his left and rolled off his right hand and into the net. Desolate, he stood by the goal line as some of his teammates came over to support him.

Aymeric Laporte added to Spain’s lead before half-time, and Sarabia, Ferran Torres and another own goal in the second half made it five for ‘`La Roja’ who had been facing elimination in front of their own fans.

The victory allowed Spain to advance in second place in Group E with five points. The team will next play Croatia in Copenhagen on Monday. Sweden, who defeated Poland 3-2 in the other match, won the group.

“I think this group has shown that it can overcome challenges,” Spain coach Luis Enrique said. “We are gaining momentum. I’m sure that if you ask any of our rivals no one will be happy to have to play against us.”

The result eliminated Slovakia, who needed at least a draw to guarantee its place in the next round.

Slovakia, which reached the last 16 at Euro 2016 in France, won its first match this year with the help of an own goal by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

“It is difficult to play against such opposition. You need to be well organised, you need to play well in defence, and we didn’t do that. To make such mistakes against Spain, that is simply not acceptable,” Slovakia coach Stefan Tarkovic said. “After the third goal, I think it turned into an exhibition match for Spain.

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski said it was tough to accept his team’s group-stage elimination at Euro 2020 following the 3-2 loss to Sweden.

Needing a victory to reach the last 16, Poland came from two goals down to equalise as Lewandowski scored twice in the Group E game in St Petersburg.

But Viktor Claesson’s 94th-minute winner extinguished Polish hopes and condemned Paulo Sousa’s side to a group-stage exit, the same fate the country suffered at the 2018 World Cup.

“Of course it hurts. To be out of this tournament is a big loss for us. It’s going to be hard to accept,” Lewandowski said. “You can’t say we didn’t have fighting spirit, ambition or determination. But there was something missing, the ability to win this match to keep on playing. But congratulations to the lads for trying, for battling. It wasn’t enough.”