Malta vs Spain: Alvaro Morata pays tribute to Luis Enrique after scoring double

The Chelsea loanee has rediscovered his form since moving to Atletico Madrid on loan

Jack Rathborn
Wednesday 27 March 2019 08:44
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Press conference with Spain manager Luis Enrique following their 3-2 Nations League defeat to England in Seville

Alvaro Morata struck a double for Spain before paying tribute to manager Luis Enrique, who missed the win over Malta for personal reasons.

The Atletico Madrid star’s double was enough for La Roja at the National Stadium – Ta’Qali, with assistant Robert Moreno in temporary charge.

The Chelsea loanee broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, sliding home from a tight angle after being found with a delightful chip from Mario Hermoso.

Malta dug in to stay in the contest, but were eventually cut open again in the 73rd minute when Morata converted a header from Jesus Navas’ cross.

Spain’s comfortable, if not comprehensive, victory sees them top of Group F, with maximum points from their opening two matches.

“Today we had more motivation to win for our coach. He deserves this,” Morata told reporters, as quoted by Spanish media outlet Marca. “We hope things go as well as possible for him.”

Moreno admitted the absence of Enrique, the former Barcelona coach in his first qualification campaign as La Roja boss, was tough for everyone involved.

“It’s the hardest day as a professional, it’s a shame, I hope everything goes well,” the Spain assistant coach said in a post-match press conference.

“It was not easy to enter the game, when things like this happen, they make the group stronger. We knew we had to do well for the national team and for Luis.”

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had come in for Manchester United’s David De Gea, while there were starts for Valencia defender Jose Luis Gaya, Atleti midfielder Saul Niguez and Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto.

Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring vs Malta

Despite the changes, Spain eventually found their way past a resolute defensive display from the home side.

Moreno said: “It was what we expected; they shut up shop.

“Attacking such a compact team isn’t easy and the conditions of the game made things tougher. We created chances and it’s a shame not to have scored more.”

PA also contributed to this report

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