Euro 2020: Spain, Italy Make Winning Starts

Sergio Ramos scored a second-half penalty to help Spain beat a spirited Norway 2-1 on Saturday in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.

Spain were not at their clinical best in Valencia, but got their Group F campaign off to a solid start despite Norway threatening an upset.

Coach Luis Enrique named an attacking line-up, with Marco Asensio, Alvaro Morata and Rodrigo all starting, and it was the latter who volleyed home the opener from Jordi Alba’s cross in the 16th minute.

Wing-back Jesus Navas created several other early chances for his teammates on his first Spain appearance since March 2014, but Rodrigo headed over and Morata was denied by away goalkeeper Rune Jarstein.

Norway started to grow into the game and were handed a chance to draw level in the 65th minute when Inigo Martinez grabbed Bjorn Johnsen, and Bournemouth striker Joshua King stepped up to slot past David de Gea.

Spain wasted little time in getting their noses back in front, though, as Jarstein felled Morata to concede a 71st-minute penalty.

Centre-back Ramos stepped up and confidently dispatched a ‘Panenka’ spot-kick down the middle to score his 16th goal of the season for club and country.

Juventus youngster Moise Kean, 19, became the youngest striker to start for Italy in more than a century as Roberto Mancini’s men saw off Finland 2-0.

Italy got off to a flying start in Udine, as Nicolo Barella gave them a seventh-minute lead with his maiden international goal.

The day belonged to Kean, though, as he slotted in the second with 16 minutes to play to mark his full debut in style.

Italy are top of the early Group J standings ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who edged out Armenia 2-1 as captain Edin Dzeko became the first player in their history to be capped 100 times.

The other game in the group saw Greece win 2-0 against Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

Northern Ireland beat Gibraltar 1-0 while World Cup quarterfinalists Sweden made a winning start in Group F as midfielders Robin Quaison and Viktor Claesson both scored in the space of seven first-half minutes in a 2-1 success over Romania.

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