Raul de Tomas: “It’s an unforgettable day, one to remember”

Pablo Sarabia’s first-half penalty proved enough to ensure La Roja took all three points against Greece in Athens on Thursday night. Luis Enrique’s side won 1-0 to end the day top of Group B of World Cup Qualifying, leapfrogging Sweden.

Spain will now face Sweden on Sunday night at La Cartuja in Sevilla, in a winner-takes-all fixture. What’s changed following tonight’s results, however, is that Spain only need to draw to top the group and secure automatic qualification for Qatar 2022. Sweden lost 2-0 to Georgia earlier in the evening.

As for the game itself, it was Greece who actually had the ball in the net first. Giorgos Masouras thought he’d fired his country into a 21st-minute lead after coolly beating Unai Simon, only for the linesman to raise his flag and rule it offside.

The tie’s decisive moment came just four minutes later. Inigo Martinez was fouled in the box and Sarabia, on loan at Sporting Lisbon from Paris Saint-Germain, stepped up to take it. He made no mistake, going left and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Victory was nothing less than Spain deserved. They controlled 72.6% of the possession and recorded a passing accuracy of 92%, making sure to press high and win the ball back as quickly as possible whenever they lost it. Greece threatened on occasion, but ultimately played with a disappointing lack of ambition. For La Roja, thoughts have now turned to Sweden on Sunday.

 

“It’s an unforgettable day, one to remember,” said debutant Raul de Tomas in comments carried by Marca. “I’m happy and excited and want to thank everyone who helped me do this. I didn’t expect to be a starter. When [Luis Enrique] released the line-up I was a bit shocked but then I started to focus myself.”

“I’ve done my job today, it was my first day. The coach will decide [who plays] on Sunday. I’ll always support whatever he decides. Alvaro [Morata] and I were switching positions [throughout the game]. We’re comfortable together, we understand each other.

“I just want to thank [Luis Enrique]. This wouldn’t have happened if Luis Enrique didn’t call me up. I’m very grateful. I just hope to repeat the experience of today many more times.”

Tags La Roja Raul de Tomas