de Gea in doubt for clash with Liverpool

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea is injured during the 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Sweden on Tuesday. The result meant that Spain have qualified. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Spain goalkeeper David de Gea is injured during the 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Sweden on Tuesday. The result meant that Spain have qualified. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Spanish goalie substituted after leg muscle injury, could miss United's Sunday EPL game

STOCKHOLM • A great night for Spain was tempered slightly by the loss of goalkeeper David de Gea to injury in the second half, although that will worry his club Manchester United more ahead of their meeting with Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

The Spaniards qualified for Euro 2020 as a stoppage-time strike by substitute Rodrigo cancelled out Marcus Berg's opener for Sweden in a 1-1 Group F draw on Tuesday.

The result left Spain top of the standings on 20 points and guaranteed a spot in the top two, with the Swedes second on 15, and Romania a point further back in third.

De Gea had to leave the pitch after an hour, clutching the back of his leg after clearing the ball.

The circumstances of the injury were similar to those of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, who tore his calf muscle on the opening weekend of the season.

Asked about the injury in his post-match press conference, Spain coach Robert Moreno said: "He had pain in the abductor muscle but he received treatment at half-time and wanted to keep playing. He gave us his word, but in the end he couldn't continue."

Spain were less than convincing on Tuesday. Having drawn with both Norway and Sweden in their last two matches on their trip to Scandinavia, they will have plenty of work to do if they want to be considered among the favourites at next year's tournament.

They started superbly, however, pinging the ball from side to side and probing for openings behind the Swedish defence.

But with light rain falling throughout the game, they then struggled to keep their footing on the Friends Arena surface.

Berg put Sweden in front early in the second half when he nodded home from close range.

The crowd of over 49,000 in the stands were in fine voice as they ignored the damp weather with the final whistle approaching, but Rodrigo silenced them by snapping up a ball from a corner and rifling it home to send Spain through.

"I am very happy, the players were very good and we met a very strong rival. It was tough for us, but we corrected what needed to be corrected," Moreno said.

"It's great that we have achieved this, there's a lot less pressure and now in three weeks we play Malta. We must focus on playing well in the remaining matches."

THANKS FOR THE SOLID FOUNDATION

When you become a high-level team like Spain, it is an obligation to qualify. I want to remember Luis Enrique and his family and dedicate this qualification to them also.

ROBERT MORENO, Spain coach, dedicating the success of qualification to his predecessor Luis Enrique, who lost his daughter to bone cancer in August.

The Spain coach also dedicated the progress to his predecessor Luis Enrique, who left his job in June to be with his terminally ill daughter, who died in August.

"When you become a high-level team like Spain, it is an obligation to qualify. I want to remember Luis Enrique and his family and dedicate this qualification to them also," he said. "There will be hard work ahead, but we are moving in the right direction."

Sweden coach Janne Andersson said he was happy with his players, despite them conceding a late goal.

"That's football, it happens sometimes. I can't sit here and be annoyed with players who have given everything," he told reporters.

The battle to join Spain at Euro 2020 could be decided when Sweden visit Romania on Nov 15.

Norway, who are fourth in the group on 11 points, still retain a remote chance of making the tournament.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'de Gea in doubt for clash with Liverpool'. Print Edition | Subscribe