Luis de la Fuente on Rafa Mir: “He’s giving his life to participate for this team”

La Roja beat the Ivory Coast 5-2 on Saturday in a thrilling match to progress to the semi-final of the Olympic Games. The game had finished 2-2 on 90 minutes, but Spain showed their quality in extra-time to score three times and pull away.

The Ivory Coast took the lead in the tenth minute through Eric Bailly. Dani Olmo then drew Spain level on the half-hour mark, before Max Gradel appeared to have nabbed it late on when he made it 2-1 in injury time.

Mikel Oyarzabal

Rafa Mir was on hand to save the day, however, and equalise again just two minutes after. Mikel Oyarzabal then scored a penalty in extra-time before Mir struck twice to complete his hat-trick and send Spain through.

Spain will face Japan next, after the host nation beat New Zealand on penalties in their quarter-final. The game will take place at noon GMT on Tuesday. They’ll pose a threat, but Luis de la Fuente has been explicit about targeting gold.

Mikel Oyarzabal

“When it went to 2-1 I thought about how unfair football was being today, with a team that was far superior about to lose,” De La Fuente said in comments post-game carried by Mundo Deportivo. “Then I regained my faith in football and today football has been fair; it’s done justice to a great team.

“We’re happy to have qualified, happy for the work we’ve done and the team’s play. We’ve come up against a great rival that from start to finish gave us complicated moments.” De La Fuente was also full of praise for Mir. “The real protagonist is here by my side, and he’s giving his life to participate for this team,” he said.
Tags La Roja Luis de la Fuente