Atletico Madrid’s on-loan Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata scored both goals as Spain laboured to a Euro 2020 qualifying win in Malta.

With 173 places separating the nations in the world rankings, an experimental Spain side controlled possession but struggled to break down the hosts.

Morata slid in from a tight angle in the first half, adding a second with a firm header from Jesus Navas’ cross.

Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was barely needed as Spain remain unbeaten.

The three-time European champions, who were knocked out in the last 16 at Euro 2016, started their qualifying campaign with a narrow 2-1 home win against Norway on Saturday.

But they were without their manager Luis Enrique on the sidelines in Malta after the former Barcelona boss travelled back home due to “a family matter of the utmost urgency”.

“We ask for discretion and respect for his privacy,” the Spanish Football Federation added in statement made earlier on Tuesday.

Instead, Enrique’s assistant Robert Moreno took charge of the team – which showed eight changes from Saturday’s narrow win over Norway.

Only skipper Sergio Ramos, forward Marco Asensio and striker Morata kept their places and the new-look side – which contained six players aged 24 or under – lacked fluency in the final third.

Malta, ranked 182nd in the world and rated as the third-worst nation in Europe, deserve credit for their organisation and application, while goalkeeper Henry Bonello also produced several stunning saves.

In the other Group F games, Norway earned a dramatic 3-3 draw against Scandinavian neighbours Sweden, while Romania thrashed the Faroe Islands 4-1.

Line-ups

Malta

  • 1Bonello
  • 4Borg
  • 2CaruanaSubstituted forMicallefat 85′minutes
  • 22Muscat
  • 19Zerafa
  • 16MintoffSubstituted forMifsudat 70′minutes
  • 15CorbalanBooked at 72mins
  • 6Guillaumier
  • 8Fenech
  • 7MbongSubstituted forMuscatat 65′minutes
  • 10Nwoko

Substitutes

  • 3Micallef
  • 5Grech
  • 9Mifsud
  • 11Muscat
  • 12Vella
  • 13Vella
  • 14Montebello
  • 17Camilleri
  • 18Kristensen
  • 20Grech
  • 21Muscat
  • 23Haber

Spain

  • 13Arrizabalaga
  • 20Roberto
  • 15Ramos
  • 12Hermoso
  • 3Gayá
  • 11Canales
  • 16Hernández
  • 6SaúlSubstituted forNavasat 65′minutes
  • 10Asensio
  • 7MorataSubstituted forRodrigoat 79′minutes
  • 14BernatSubstituted forMuniainat 56′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1de Gea
  • 2Gómez
  • 4Martínez
  • 5Busquets
  • 8Ceballos
  • 9Rodrigo
  • 17Mata
  • 18Alba
  • 19Muniain
  • 21Parejo
  • 22Navas
  • 23López
Referee:
Andrew Dallas

Match Stats

Home TeamMaltaAway TeamSpain
Possession
Home16%
Away84%
Shots
Home2
Away23
Shots on Target
Home1
Away7
Corners
Home0
Away7
Fouls
Home10
Away7

Live Text

Match ends, Malta 0, Spain 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Malta 0, Spain 2.

Attempt missed. Sergio Ramos (Spain) header from very close range is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Mario Hermoso with a headed pass following a corner.

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Karl Micallef.

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Zach Muscat.

Attempt saved. Marco Asensio (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt missed. Michael Mifsud (Malta) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Juan Corbalan.

Foul by Rodrigo Moreno (Spain).

Steve Borg (Malta) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Joseph Zerafa (Malta) right footed shot from long range on the left is saved in the centre of the goal.

Foul by Sergio Ramos (Spain).

Joseph Zerafa (Malta) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Sergio Canales (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sergi Roberto.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Karl Micallef replaces Jonathan Caruana because of an injury.

Delay in match Jonathan Caruana (Malta) because of an injury.

Foul by Sergio Canales (Spain).

Paul Fenech (Malta) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Spain. Sergio Canales tries a through ball, but Jesús Navas is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Spain. Rodrigo Moreno replaces Álvaro Morata.

Attempt saved. Sergio Ramos (Spain) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Offside, Malta. Kyrian Nwoko tries a through ball, but Michael Mifsud is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! Malta 0, Spain 2. Álvaro Morata (Spain) header from the left side of the six yard box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jesús Navas with a cross.

Booking

Juan Corbalan (Malta) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Sergio Canales (Spain) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Juan Corbalan (Malta).

Mario Hermoso (Spain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steve Borg (Malta).

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Michael Mifsud replaces John Mintoff.

Foul by Mario Hermoso (Spain).

Rowen Muscat (Malta) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Álvaro Morata (Spain) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Sergio Canales with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Juan Corbalan.

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Rowen Muscat replaces Joseph Mbong.

Substitution

Substitution, Spain. Jesús Navas replaces Saúl Ñíguez.

Attempt missed. José Gayá (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Sergi Roberto.

Attempt blocked. Marco Asensio (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mario Hermoso.

José Gayá (Spain) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Juan Corbalan (Malta).

Corner, Spain. Conceded by Jonathan Caruana.

goal

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