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Live Commentary: Spain 2-1 Norway - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Spain's 2-1 win over Norway, as Rodrigo and Sergio Ramos made it a winning start to qualifying for La Roja.
Live Commentary: Spain 2-1 Norway - as it happened
© Reuters

Spain edged out Norway 2-1 at the Mestalla on Saturday evening to begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with all three points.

La Roja took the lead from one of their 15 first-half attempts, with Rodrigo capitalising from some positive play by Jordi Alba down the left.

Joshua King equalised from the penalty spot completely against the run of play, but the hosts regained their lead just over five minutes later through a pen of their own - Sergio Ramos beating Rune Jarstein with a Paneka to claim all three points for his side.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.


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Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Euro 2020 qualifier between Spain and Norway at the Mestalla. La Roja are the strong favourites to top a group that also contains Faroe Islands, Malta, Norway, Romania and Sweden, so three points will therefore be expected this evening as Luis Enrique's new-look side begin their latest new era in Valencia.

SPAIN TEAM NEWS!

STARTING XI: De Gea; Navas, Ramos, Martinez, Alba; Parejo, Busquets, Ceballos; Rodrigo, Asensio, Morata

SUBS: Hermoso, Niguez, Gomez, Canales, Gaya, Roberto, Mata, Kepa, Lopez, Rodrigo, Munian, Bernat


NORWAY TEAM NEWS!

STARTING XI: Jarstein; Elabdellaoui, Nordtveit, Ajer, Aleesami; Odegaard, Henriksen, Selnaes, Johansen; King, Elyounoussi

SUBS: Linnes, Sorloth, Svensson, Kamara, Daehli, Grytebust, Fossum, Hovland, Rosted, Johnsen, Elyounoussi, Bratveit


KICKOFF:  Spain, who have Navas in their ranks today for the first time since 2013, get us up and running at the Mestalla. This may be a new era for La Roja but there are some familiar faces, too.

Sergio Ramos reacts during the Nations League game between Spain and England on October 15, 2018© Reuters


Ceballos carries the ball forward and is invited to shoot. The midfielder gets his contact all wrong, sending the ball high and wide of the target.

Navas, now more familiar in a hybrid wing-back role of sorts, is seeing plenty of the ball early on. The Sevilla ace sends a ball in from the right that causes some panic in the Norway box, but the visitors manage to see out the danger.

SAVE!  Morata has a big chance to prove himself this evening as the central striker. Alba's cross from the left is met by the Atletico Madrid loanee, but the header is aimed straight at Jarstein in the Norway goal.

Morata darts towards the byline and then attempts to cut the ball back to a teammate in the middle, but it is cut out by Ajer for a corner. Spain, as expected, are dominating possession so far and are looking good value for an early goal.

Spain have had a incredible 90% of the ball in the opening 10 minutes. It is one-way traffic, but La Roja have only created one chance of note so far - Morata heading straight at Jarstein early on.

Regular Premier League watchers will know all about Bournemouth striker King's pace. A lofted ball over the top gives him something to chase down, but Ramos got to it first and won his side a free kick in the process.

Another teasing cross form Navas is crying out to be helped home. It bounces up and Morata cannot quite bring it under control - another let-off of sorts for Norway. Spain have had three shots so far, one of those on target.

Norway are starting to look a lot more settled now, even offering a little more of an attacking threat over the last five minutes. Enrique will be happy enough with his side's start, but they could do with a goal.

GOAL!  SPAIN 1-0 NORWAY (RODRIGO)

Former Valencia player Alba creates a goal for current Los Che star Rodrigo. The former was played into space down the left and chipped the ball to the edge of the six-yard box, where Rodrigo was waiting to finish at the home of his club side. That is a good first-time finish.

Rodrigo is mobbed by his Spain teammates after opening the scoring in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway on March 23, 2019© Reuters


Spain are having so much joy down the two flanks, with Alba and Navas causing real problems for the visitors. A lofted Navas cross aimed towards the back post is plucked out of the air by Jarstein before a home player can nod it in.

SAVE!  Navas this time goes with a cross into the front post, which Rodrigo gets on the end of. The flicked finish is on target, but Jarstein gets down to keep it out. Morata gets on the end of the corner but heads straight at Jarstein, just like he did from his early chance.

Spain already have one goal, then, but they could easily have had one or two more. Morata has wasted a couple of decent opportunities and goalscorer Rodrigo was also denied by Jarstein a few minutes ago. Norway are struggling to cope at the back.

A rare Norway attack ends with a couple of balls into the box being cleared, the second one by Ramos. The visitors come again, but a cross towards the back post goes straight out of play with nobody in a white shirt anywhere near it.

STATS! A look at the match stats shows just how dominant Spain have been in the opening half an hour.

Asensio's shot is poor, missing the target by a good few yards with his first-time shot from just inside the box. Norway boss Lagerback has sent a few attacking players to warm up, possibly because of an injury picked up by one of his starters.

CHANCE!  Rodrigo tries to slip the ball through for Morata but gets a little too much on the pass and it is gobbled up by Jarstein. Norway are having a good spell at the moment and probably should be level - Elyounoussi slides in but cannot help Henriksen's cross over the line.

That really was a massive chance for Elyounoussi, who appeared to clear the ball rather than converting it into a half-empty net from a few yards out. Spain, for all their possession, know that it could so easily have been 1-1.

SAVE!  Morata gets another header on target and is again thwarted by Jarstein. Unlike his previous two efforts, though, this one forced the Norway keeper to actually break stride, getting across to his left to keep the ball out.

Make that four headed chances for Morata, the latest of which loops over the crossbar. Enrique could do with one of these chances being converted.

YELLOW CARD!  Ajer is shown a yellow for going through Morata with a high boot - a little harsh, as his opponent's leg was equally as high. It may have been shown for a handball offence, but that would have been even harsher.

SAVE!  Parejo takes on the free kick, lifting the ball over the wall but meeting his match in Jarstein. The Norway keeper is being seriously worked in this pretty one-sided first half at the Mestalla.

CHANCE!  Brilliant play from Spain, as some one-touch football culminates in Rodrigo getting in a shot that is deflected behind. From the corner, Busquets volleys goalwards and Ramos so nearly turns it over the line from close range. Unlucky!

DISALLOWED GOAL!  Alba drifts into the middle and tucks the ball past Jarstein when picked out by Asensio's left-sided cross, but the offside flag went up to cut short his celebrations. No idea how there has been just the one goal in this match!

SAVE!  Lagerback could do with the half-time whistle now as Spain are pushing his side further and further back. Asensio's angled drive is heading for the back of the net, if not for a strong hand from the overworked Jarstein.

Not for the first time today, De Gea is played into danger by one of his teammates. Norway win a corner from it, which goes through the box to captain Johansen to thump over the crossbar. Just like that, the visitors could have been level.

OFF THE LINE!  Ceballos weaves into the box, steadies himself for the shot but hits a Norway player right on the line. If Norway take something from this match it will be the ultimate smash-and-grab.

HALF TIME:  SPAIN 1-0 NORWAY

Spain take a one-goal lead into half time at the Mestalla, but Enrique will be wondering how his side have not scored five or six. La Roja had 15 goal attempts in that first half, finding a way through with one of them thanks to Rodrigo's smart finish.

Norway keeper Rune Jarstein was a busy man in the first half as he was regularly called into action to keep out the opposition, who had 15 attempts in total before the interval, seven of those on target. Alvaro Morata had three good headed opportunities kept out, sending two of those right at Jarstein and forcing the overworked stopper into a good save from the third of them.

Either side of those misses, Rodrigo edged the hosts in front with a pretty simple finish from the edge of the six-yard box, profiting from some good play by Jordi Alba down the left-hand side. Rodrigo was denied a second by a smart stop from Jarstein, nearly picking out the bottom corner with his flicked finish, and Daniel Parejo also came close from a long-range free kick that was on target.

For all their dominance, though, with Sergio Ramos almost diverting a miscued Sergio Busquets volley into the back of the net and Alba having a goal ruled out for offside, Norway squandered a glorious opportunity of their own. From a rare attacking move, Stefan Johansen pulled the ball back for Tarik Elyounoussi, who was unable to slide it over the line from under the crossbar.

BENCH WATCH!

SPAIN SUBS: Linnes, Sorloth, Svensson, Kamara, Daehli, Grytebust, Fossum, Hovland, Rosted, Johnsen, Elyounoussi, Bratveit

NORWAY SUBS: Hermoso, Niguez, Gomez, Canales, Gaya, Roberto, Mata, Kepa, Lopez, Rodrigo, Munian, Bernat

Luis Enrique in charge of Spain on October 8, 2018© Reuters


KICKOFF:  Norway, fortunate to still be within one goal of Spain, get us back underway in Valencia!

Spain pick up from where they left off in the first half. Navas sends in another good delivery but Morata cannot make any contact with it under pressure from a Norway defender. A corner is won, which Elyounoussi gets on the end of.

The visitors will hope to weather this storm and potentially snatch a goal against the run of play. They have created just one chance so far, but what a chance it was for Elyounoussi. Spain come again, with Rodrigo guilty of showboating as he tries to set up a teammate with an assist off his back.

SAVE!  Elyounoussi catches Ceballos late and is rightly shown a yellow card by the referee. Spain take no time at all to find their rhythm as Morata is slipped in behind, but his low shot is kept out by Jarstein. It is still 1-0. Incredible!

YELLOW CARD!  Ceballos retaliates after being fouled and is shown the game's third yellow card. Norway appear ready to make their first change of the contest - if nothing else it will help break up play a little.

NORWAY SUB! Tarik Elyounoussi, guilty of a huge miss in the first half, is replaced by Johnsen in the game's first change.

NORWAY SUB! Lagerback makes his second change of the match by bringing on Mohamed Elyounoussi for Odegaard. Seconds later, Navas smashed the ball over the bar from 30 yards after being encouraged to shoot.

With nearly an hour played Spain have just a one-goal lead. That is not enough for Enrique to be comfortable and he will be desperate to see his side score a second to avoid a nervy conclusion. De Gea has not had a save to make so far.

CHANCE!  Ceballos picks out Ramos at the back post and the centre-back, who knows how the find the back of the net, should be doing a lot better than volleying wide of the target. Parejo then drags a shot wide of the target from just outside the box.

There is now less than half an hour to go at the Mestalla as Spain continue to push for a second goal that would kill off the contest. Until they find it, Norway still have a slim chance of nicking the most unlikely of points.

Navas does not look all that comfortable when having to defend a ball towards the back post, happy to turn it behind for a corner. The set piece is a good one, aimed towards Johnsen eight yards from goal and headed against Martinez.

PENALTY!  Unbelievable! Norway have the chance to level up the contest from the spot as Martinez is penalised for wrapping his arms around Johnsen. Spain's players are furious but the referee appeared to make the right call.

GOAL!  SPAIN 1-1 NORWAY (JOSHUA KING, PEN)

King sends the penalty past De Gea and Norway are level through their first attempt on target all match. Enrique is furious down on the touchline, knowing that his side should have been well out of sight.

Joshua King of Norway celebrates with teammates after converting a penalty in his side's Euro 2020 qualifier against Spain on March 23, 2019© Reuters


CHANCE!  Enrique needs to get Morata off the field. The striker misses yet another glorious chance, failing to find the target with this latest attempt from a good position. Spain have 22 minutes to find a winner.

PENALTY!  Morata is given a ball to chase down, which he gets to ahead of Jarstein. The Norway keeper takes out the striker and the referee points to the spot for the second time in five minutes.

GOAL!  SPAIN 2-1 NORWAY (SERGIO RAMOS, PEN)

As cheeky as you like from Ramos, as he beats Jarstein with a Paneka. Spain, having been pegged back by Norway against the run of play, once again have a lead to hold on to for the final 18 minutes.

Joshua King converts a penalty to equalise for Norway against Spain on March 23, 2019© Reuters


SPAIN SUB! Canales is brought on for his senior Spain debut, taking over from Ceballos in midfield. Busquets has just taken a blow to the head so there is a further stoppage in play.

Morata looks a lot more confident since winning his side the penalty from which Ramos converted. The striker weaves past a couple of men and sees his attempted cutback blocked behind from a corner. Before that, a Norway free kick was fired into the side-netting.

Spain are looking good value for a goal, but that was the case for a good half an hour of playing time before Norway pounced against the run of play. This match is still alive as long as it remains just 2-1.

SAVE!  Asensio drops the shoulder and tries to catch out Jarstein at his near post, but the Norway keeper - at fault for the Spain penalty - is equal to it down low. Norway have 10 minutes to find a second equaliser of the evening. It is time for Lagerback to gamble.

Norway have barely managed to get hold of the ball since Spain edged 2-1 in front. The visitors get a rare opportunity to commit bodies forward, but three players are in an offside position when the ball arrives in the area.

Spain are happy to just knock the ball around now. Their chances have dried up, but they are looking comfortable and at no risk of conceding. Enrique will see this as job done if his side can see out the remaining 10 minutes.

Ajer lunges in at the front post to prevent a right-sided cross from being tapped in by a Spain player. Before that Asensio had the ball at his feet in the box but was reluctant to go for goal himself. The hosts just do not want to kill this game off, it seems.

Spain now have just one clean sheet in their last seven competitive matches. The defensive side of their game still needs improving, then, but it has been his side's profligacy that will concern Enrique most on the back of this likely win.

SPAIN SUB! Morata, who has had a mixed evening - he missed four or five chances but won his side a penalty - is replaced by Mata. It is a first cap for the incoming player at the age of 30.

CHANCE!  Far too arrogant from Asensio! The Spanish attacker beats the offside trap and has just Jarstein to beat, but he tries to chip the ball over the Norway keeper and only succeeds in lifting it over the crossbar. There may still be one big chance in this match for the visitors.

Norway pile bodies forward, with the goalkeeper also coming up, which causes some panic at the back for Spain. It is incredible that the home side are having to defend for their lives, but that was always going to be a risk when they passed up chance after chance. There is a minute left for the home side to see out.

Ramos and Johnsen clash heads, leading to a stoppage in play. There is still around 60 seconds left to play.

FULL TIME:  SPAIN 2-1 NORWAY

Spain kick off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over Norway at the Mestalla. La Roja took the lead from one of their 15 first-half attempts, with Rodrigo capitalising from some positive play by Alba down the left, only for King to level up from the penalty spot completely against the run of play. The hosts regained their lead just over five minutes later through a pen of their own, though - Ramos beating Jarstein with a Paneka to earn all three points for his side.

That concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from Valencia. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and be sure to join us against at the same time tomorrow for updates from Germany's trip to the Netherlands. See you then!

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Sergio Ramos reacts during the Nations League game between Spain and England on October 15, 2018
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