Sept 24 (Reuters) – Spain suffered a 2-1 loss to Switzerland on Saturday with goals from Manuel Akanji and Breel Embolo, a result that ousted the hosts from the lead in Group 2 of League A of the Nations League of UEFA, in the absence of a game.
The Spanish are now second with eight points, after being overtaken by Portugal, who beat the Czech Republic 4-0 away and reached 10 points.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s team will move into the final four with at least one draw at home in Tuesday’s decider against Spain, which they must win in Braga to qualify for the semi-finals.
Switzerland is third with six points, two more than the Czechs, whom it will face on Tuesday in the fight to avoid relegation.
Akanji opened the scoring with a header from a corner in the 21st minute, but Jordi Alba equalized for the hosts with a cross from a counterattack in the 55th minute.
However, three minutes later, Embolo scored the winning goal with a shot from close range from a corner, after Akanji sent the ball into the six-yard box, where the striker converted it into a goal.
“We have played against a really aggressive opponent, who presses, physically very strong, who has prevented us from playing our style of football,” Spain coach Luis Enrique told TVE.
“We have not been successful in front of goal, really erratic, the worst thing I remember since I coached this team (…) We have to fix that because now we have a final in Portugal. We have to go there and win. There is no other way”.
Despite having 70% of the possession, Spain lacked energy for most of the match and hardly posed a threat to Yann Sommers’ goal until Alba scored with his first shot on goal.
The Swiss sat back and waited for a Spain that proved unimaginative on an uninspired night for their highly-rated Barcelona midfielders Pedri and Gavi.
It wasn’t until late in the second half that the hosts created chances, but they were prevented by Sommer, who made two decisive saves against substitutes Marcos Llorente and Borja Iglesias.
In the other Group 2 game, Portugal won their visit to the Czech Republic thanks to a brace from Diego Dalot and goals from Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota.
The Portuguese controlled possession of the ball and opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, when Rafael Leao sent a cross into the area and Dalot beat goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
Fernandes doubled the visitors’ lead in first-half added time. Patrik Schick took a penalty over the bar for the Czechs just before the break.
Dalot scored his second goal shortly after the break and Jota completed the scoring in the 82nd minute, leaving the 2019 champions with first chance of advancing to the semi-finals. (Reporting by Fernando Kallas in Madrid; additional reporting by Michael Kahn in Prague; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)