Spain holds on for 2-1 win over Romania in Euro qualifier

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Spain ended a six-game winless streak in Romania with a 2-1 victory in a qualifying match for the 2020 European Championship on Thursday.

Sergio Ramos and Paco Alcácer scored a goal in each half as “La Roja” solidified its lead in Group F. Spain has won all of its five qualifiers and has a five-point lead over second-place Sweden, which routed the Faeroe Islands 4-0.

“Happy with the three points and with the overall performance,” Spain coach Robert Moreno said. “There are a few things we still have to correct. We were caught off-guard a few times in the defense.”

Spain hadn’t won in its previous six trips to Romania, with four draws and two losses.

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The Spaniards played the final 15 minutes with 10 men after a straight red card was shown to defender Diego Llorente for a foul to stop a dangerous breakaway by Romania.

“I think we lacked intensity after the 2-0,” Ramos said. “We deserved the victory, but we can’t play like we did in the end of the match.”

It was Spain’s first match with Moreno as its fulltime coach after Luis Enrique resigned in June because of his daughter’s illness. Moreno, Luis Enrique’s former assistant, had been acting as interim manager since March.

Before the match, a minute of silence was observed in tribute to Luis Enrique’s daughter, 9-year-old Xana, who died last week after a five-month battle with a type of bone cancer.

Ramos put Spain ahead by converting a 29th-minute penalty after Dani Ceballos was fouled inside the area. It was Ramos’ 21st goal with the national team, and fourth so far in the qualifiers. He is now tied with Michel González for 10th on Spain’s all-time scoring list.

Alcácer added to Spain’s lead early in the second half with a close-range shot into an open net after a neat exchange of passes with Ceballos and Jordi Alba.

Romania pulled on back through a header by substitute Florin Andone in the 59th.

The hosts pressed after Llorente was sent off, but were not able to capitalize on their chances to equalize. Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made two difficult saves from close-range strikes in the final minutes.

The match was briefly interrupted after Romania’s goal as a couple of fans invaded the field.

On Sunday, Spain hosts the Faeroe Islands, while Romania hosts Malta.

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