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Spain forward Alvaro Morata celebrates his equaliser (Photo: AFP)
Once again, Alvaro Morata came off the bench to rescue his team!
Alvaro Morata came off the bench to ensure Spain and Colombia shared the spoils in their international friendly at the Estadio Nueva Condomina on Wednesday night, with 2-2 at full-time.
Spain manager Julen Lopetegui chose to keep Chelsea forward Diego Costa on the bench, opting to let Celta Vigo man Iago Aspas lead the line, as La Roja trotted out in their standard 4-3-3 formation. Pepe Reina was afforded a rare start between the sticks, but their defence was almost first-string, with Sergio Ramos the only notable absentee.
Gerard Pique partnered Nacho in the hear of defence with Jordi Alba and Cezar Azpilcueta the starting full-backs. Asier Illaramendi, Koke and Andres Iniesta started in midfield with David Silva and Pedro giving Aspas support up top.
Colombia had plenty of stars in their line up as well, with Radamel Falcao the lone forward in Los Cafeteros’ 4-2-3-1 formation. James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Cristian Zapata and David Ospina were in Jose Pekerman’s starting XI as the South Americans looked to trump the double European champions.
It was Spain, however, who drew first-blood against their higher-ranked opponents, via the diminutive Silva. The Manchester City midfielder slid into to guide home Pedro’s cross in the 22nd minute, with Ospina getting a hand to the ball but unable to prevent it from closing the line.
Playing in their inimitable ‘tiki-taka’ style, the hosts continued to dominate possession but Colombia had chances of their own and were looking dangerous on the counter.
Yet, it took a horrible mix-up between Azpilcueta and Reina to get the visitors on the scoresheet five minutes from half-time. The duo allowed Edwin Cardona to sneak in and lob in the equaliser after the Spaniards had been caught in two minds as to whose ball it was.
The goal emboldened the Colombians and they ended the first-half the stronger of the two and picked up where they left off in the second period.
Falcao flew in to scored a thumping header off a James Rodriguez corner in the 55th minute to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the game.
Lopetgui responded by sending on Gerard Deulofeu and Alvaro Morata but the Colombians were resolute in their defence and seemed to be holding on for a priceless win.
It was left to Morata, so often the super-sub at club Real Madrid, to save the day. His swift header from a Saul Niguez cross three minutes from time stunned the Colombians as they thought they had the three points in the bag.
While the game was just an international friendly, for players like Morata it was a virtual trial as he seeks to tie up a move away from the Spanish giants after spending a majority of the 2016-17 season on the bench.
Considering his impact on Wednesday night, the young forward is looking to be well worth the hefty transfer fee that has been touted in recent reports.
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