Spain hammer Slovakia 5-0 in statement victory

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Spain crushed a hapless Slovakia 5-0 in their first Euro 2020 win on Wednesday, setting up a last-16 clash against Croatia, after being set on their way by a calamitous own-goal from keeper Martin Dubravka.

Aymeric Laporte headed in a second goal on the stroke of halftime before second-half goals from Sarabia, Ferran Torres and a Juraj Kucka own goal rounded off an emphatic win that saw them finish second in Group E on five points behind Sweden.

Luis Enrique’s side will next meet Croatia in Copenhagen on Monday while Slovakia, who came third with three points and a goal difference of minus five, are heading home.

Dubravka had made a stunning save to keep out an Alvaro Morata penalty but gave Spain the lead on the half-hour mark when he palmed the ball into his own net after a Sarabia shot had cannoned off the crossbar and looped back towards goal.

The goal, which came about after a misplaced pass from Slovakia’s shaky defence, eased any nerves Spain had of a shock exit after disappointing draws with Sweden and Poland, and they went on to record the biggest win of the tournament.

Cesar Azpilicueta had said ahead of the crunch game that it was “do or die” for Spain but coach Luis Enrique was more optimistic, likening his side to a bottle of champagne that was about to be uncorked.

Influential captain Sergio Busquets returned as one of four changes, yet there was a familiar feeling as Spain squandered several early chances including the penalty, which was the fifth consecutive spot-kick they have failed to convert and followed Gerard Moreno’s miss against Poland.

It took Dubravka’s moment of madness for the Spaniards to take the lead, but there was no letting up after that and after missing so many clear chances in all three games, practically every effort they had seemed to go in.

Laporte nodded home a Gerard Moreno cross following a corner right before halftime and the party continued after the interval when Sarabia calmly tucked in a Jordi Alba cross in the 56th minute.

Ferran added to the festive mood by scoring with a classy backheel immediately after coming off the bench, converting a cross from the electric Sarabia, while fellow substitute Pau Torres played a big part in the scrappy fifth goal, which went in off Slovakia midfielder Kucka.

It sealed a miserable afternoon for Slovakia, who had hopes of getting into the knockout stages for the second time in their second appearance in a Euros but were overwhelmed by a Spain side that finally found their feet.