Spain edges Sweden 1-0 to qualify for World Cup

·2 min read

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Substitute Álvaro Morata scored late as Spain beat Sweden 1-0 Sunday to qualify for the World Cup for the 12th straight time, leaving Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s team facing the playoffs.

Morata scored the winner from inside the area in the 86th minute after a long-range shot by Dani Olmo struck the post.

The victory in the tense match in Seville secured Spain first place in Group B and the automatic spot in next year’s tournament in Qatar.

The 40-year-old Ibrahimovic came off the bench in the 74th but couldn't spark the visitors to victory, which was the only result it needed to avoid the playoffs.

Spain finished with 19 points, four more than Sweden, which will be drawn against the other nine runners-up and two group winners from the UEFA Nations League. The playoffs will be played in March with the 12 nations playing in three four-team brackets. The seeded teams will get a home game in the bracket semifinals.

Sweden made it to the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup but didn't qualify for the tournament in 2014 and 2010.

Spain has qualified for every World Cup since 1978, winning its lone global title in 2010 in South Africa. It was eliminated by host Russia in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.

Sweden was coming off a surprising 2-0 loss at already eliminated Georgia to drop behind Spain in the group standings.

Backed by a crowd of more than 50,000 at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville, Spain controlled possession but struggled to create many significant scoring changes. Alexander Isak threatened the most for Sweden, squandering one of the team’s best chances in the second half with a shot that went over the crossbar.

Sweden beat Spain 2-1 in September in their first qualifier but the teams had drawn 0-0 in Seville in the group stage of the 2020 European Championship.


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The Associated Press

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