They fell 1-0 on the fourth date of the European tournament. It was Luis Enrique’s first loss after his return and the end of a 15-game streak.
The last time Ukraine had scored a goal against Spain was in 2003, when both Andriy Shevchenko it only served to discount in the 2-1 loss. This time, Shevchenko was seated in the bench of substitutes of his Selection and his equipment returned to mark. The prize was huge: a 1-0 win in the UEFA Nations League.
Spain had not lost a game since November 15, 2018, when they lost 3-2 to Croatia in Zagreb. He had played 15 games, with 11 wins and four draws, between official and friendly matches.
With this result, Luis Enrique’s team gave up its undefeated but not the leadership of Group 4 of League A, although now everything is much tighter. The Roja it remains at the top with 7 points, followed by Ukraine and Germany (tied 3-3 with Switzerland) with 6 points.
The meeting was played in Kiev and with an auspicious novelty in the face of a gradual return to normality that was eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic: in the Olympic Stadium, the same one where Spain won the Euro in 2012, they enabled the presence of near 15 thousand spectators who occupied the stands respecting the established protocols.
If there is a flaw that Spain showed in the last matches, it was his lack of offensive power: generates a lot but specifies little and nothing. And that diagnosis was repeated on the visit to Ukraine.
Luis Enrique tried another formula and for the first time put Ansu Fati together in the starting team, the young man from Barcelona who not only made his debut in the Major League in this competition but also knew how to win a place and is already an undisputed starter, along with Adama Troaré, the 24-year-old muscular striker who plays for Premier League’s Wolverhampton.
The Spanish attack trio completed it Rodrigo Moreno, the nationalized Brazilian who arrived this season at Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds. It didn’t work.
And in this trio of straight games for the Nations League, he celebrated just one goal in three games: the 1-0 win against Switzerland came after the 0-0 draw against Portugal.
The first half was played what Ukraine wanted. The touch was imposed on the touch and the associated search that Spain intended. Just a free kick by Sergio Ramos that George Buschan covered very well against his left corner altered a flat procedure with few dangerous actions.
And the second half was an extension of that repertoire. What Spain was trying to do with dozens of passes, Ukraine tried in a couple of direct and deep touches to force the defensive error of Luis Enrique’s men.
The prize for this strategy was to go little but thoroughly. This happened at the beginning of the complement with a half turn that failed Oleksandr Zubkov in the heart of the area.
And it paid off at the end with the goal of Viktor Tsygankov, who received the front pass from Yarmolenko and had incredible help from David De Gea, which was halfway, well ahead and left the goal served for the 1-0 that marked the first defeat of Luis Enrique after his return to the National Team.