Spain’s pain lies at the back & in attack
Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque accepted a moment of defensive complacency and poor finishing cost his team dearly in their shock World Cup qualifying draw with Finland.
The hosts appeared to be progressing towards a routine victory in Gijon on Friday night after Sergio Ramos marked his 100th international appearance with the opening goal.
But Del Bosque’s team paid the price for leaving themselves exp-osed on the break as Finland striker Teemu Pukki grabbed an unlikely leveller.
“We didn’t contemplate the counter attack,” Del Bosque said. “We dominated the game so much that our defenders began to think all they needed to do was attack.
“It seems impossible that we drew after dictating both halves of the game. We were organised, but everything went out of control in the end. They defended well and then the unthinkable happened and they scored a goal.”
Del Bosque was left frustrated by his team’s inability to force a grea-ter number of goalscoring opportunities despite dominating more than 80 per cent of the possession and completing 740 more passes than the Finns.
Spain’s shooting was particularly wayward with only four of their 29 attempts at goal on target. “We couldn’t create enough clear shots and we were unable to get the second goal to finish off the game,” Del Bosque added.
“It seems almost impossible (to have drawn). We dominated the first half. We could have been more clinical in front of goal but to not have won is too big a punishment.”
Spain now trail Group I leaders France by two points heading into Tuesday’s make or break meeting in Paris, but Del Bosque is remaining positive.
“We continue to rely on ourselves,” he said. “We have a great team and winning in France is possible. There are four games left and still a long way to go.”
Captain Ramos admitted Finland’s late leveller overshadowed his personal accomplishment of scoring a rare international goal on his 100th outing for La Roja.
“On a personal level it was great, but it was a shame that in the end we couldn’t win,” said the Real Madrid defender who, a week before his 27th birthday, became the youngest European to become an international centurion.
“It’s a pity because they scored with their first shot. We controlled the game and the only thing lacking was the precision to kill the game.”
Ramos defended the team from accusations they had underestimated Finland’s threat and already had an eye on the game in Paris. “Not at all,” he said. “This was the most important game because it came first and with a victory we would have gone to Paris in a different way.”