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September 24 (Reuters) – Spain lost 2-1 to Switzerland on Saturday through goals from Manuel Akanji and Breel Embolo, a result that knocked the hosts off the lead in Group 2 of UEFA Nations League League A by missing one game.
The Spaniards are now second on eight points after being overtaken by Portugal, who beat the Czech Republic 4-0 to grab 10 points.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s side will enter the last four with at least a home draw in Tuesday’s decider against Spain, which they must win in Braga to qualify for the semi-finals.
Switzerland are third with six points, two more than the Czechs, whom they face in Tuesday’s fight for relegation.
Akanji opened the scoring with a header from a corner in the 21st minute, but Jordi Alba equalized for the hosts with a cross after a counterattack in the 55th minute.
Three minutes later, however, Embolo scored the winning goal with a close-range shot from a corner after Akanji sent the ball into the six-yard box, where the striker converted it into a goal.
“We played against a really aggressive opponent who physically pressed a lot and prevented us from playing our style of football,” Spain coach Luis Enrique told TVE.
“We weren’t successful in front of goal, really unpredictable, the worst thing I remember since I’ve coached this team (…) We have to fix that because now we have a final in Portugal. We have to go there and win.” . There is no other way”.
Despite Spain having 70% possession, the Spaniards lacked energy for most of the game and there was little threat to Yann Sommers’ goal until Alba’s first shot on target scored.
The Swiss sat back and waited for a Spain that proved unimaginative for their highly-rated Barcelona midfielders Pedri and Gavi on an uninspired evening.
The hosts only created chances late in the second half, but Sommer prevented them with two decisive saves against substitutes Marcos Llorente and Borja Iglesias.
In the other Group 2 game, Portugal won their away game in the Czech Republic thanks to a Diego Dalot brace and goals from Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota.
The Portuguese controlled possession and opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when Rafael Leao sent a cross into the area and Dalot goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik beat.
Fernandes doubled the visitors’ lead in first-half injury time. Shortly before the break, Patrik Schick shot a penalty over the bar for the Czechs.
Dalot scored his second goal just after the break and Jota completed the strike in the 82nd minute, giving the 2019 champions their first chance of progressing to the semi-finals. (Reporting by Fernando Kallas in Madrid; additional reporting by Michael Kahn in Prague; editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)