Sergio Ramos fires Spain to victory against Norway
Sergio Ramos scored the winner from the penalty spot as Spain recorded a 2-1 victory over Norway in Valencia to begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Luis Enrique’s side dominated possession and had 26 shots compared to just four for their opponents but Bournemouth’s Josh King looked like he might have snatched an unlikely draw when he netted a 65th-minute penalty to cancel out Rodrigo’s opener.
However, Norway gave away a penalty themselves and Ramos made no mistake.
Spain’s side included Sevilla veteran Jesus Navas, who made his first appearance for the national side for five years at right-back.
The home side looked dangerous from the start, with Navas a key figure, and took the lead in the 15th minute when Jordi Alba’s pull-back was volleyed in by Valencia’s Rodrigo for his fifth international goal.
The home hero nearly had a second five minutes later but his neat back heel from Navas’ cross was smartly saved by Rune Jarstein.
It was largely one-way traffic but Norway should have pulled one back after half an hour.
Markus Henriksen counter-attacked down the right and drilled the ball across goal for the sliding Tarik Elyounoussi, who was all alone two yards out but somehow diverted the ball away.
Alvaro Morata appeared on a mission to score with his head and came close twice in a matter of moments, first being denied by Jarstein and then looping an effort just wide.
Spain did have the ball in the back of the net again five minutes before the break but Alba was clearly offside.
The only disappointment for Spain was that they were not further in front, and they continued to look very dangerous in the early stages of the second half, with Ramos missing from very close range.
They were made to pay for their profligacy when Inigo Martinez was penalised for hauling down substitute Bjorn Johnsen as a corner came in and King confidently dispatched the spot-kick.
But parity lasted only six minutes before Ramos converted another spot-kick.
Norway only had themselves to blame as a poor back pass played in Morata and Jarstein came flying out of his goal to chop down the striker. Ramos again chose the Panenka and pulled it off with panache.
Spain could not find a third to make sure but there was time for 30-year-old Getafe striker Jaime Mata to be given his debut.