Euro 2020: Spain coach Luis Enrique sees gains, never mind the loss
Spain coach Luis Enrique said he had no complaints over his side’s Euro 2020 semi-final exit after a penalty shootout defeat to Italy on Tuesday, insisting he will only be congratulating his players for their efforts in the tournament.
Alvaro Morata’s well-taken finish dragged Spain back into the game after Federico Chiesa had brilliantly fired Italy into the lead in the second half at Wembley.
But after neither side could find a winner following extra-time, Morata missed in the shootout and Jorginho’s spot kick sealed the Azzurri a place in the final.
“It is not a sad night for me, not at all,” Enrique told a news conference.“Of course there is some disappointment but that is elite football. You have to learn to win and lose.
“We talked a lot about how we wanted to play, the players believed in it and I can only congratulate them, I have no complaints. We have shown that we are a team.”
Few divide opinion in Spain like Morata.
One minute he looks like one of the most potent strikers in world football, as his superb finish to bring Spain back level against Italy showed.
The next, he looks a nervous wreck in front of goal, with his thoroughly unconvincing penalty proving crucial as Spain slipped out of the Euros at Wembley.
Morata became the first Spanish player to score for club and country at Wembley Stadium. But from the moment the 28-year-old put the ball on the spot for Spain’s crucial fourth penalty in the shootout, you were never convinced the net was going to bulge.
His tentative spot-kick was easily saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as Morata came full circle from hero to zero in no time at all as Spain crashed out.
“He has an abductor issue and it really says a lot about his personality that despite that he wanted to take a penalty,” Enrique said after the match. “He has gone through some tough times during this competition but he was brilliant all match.”
Morata’s goals per game record for his country — nearly one in two — represents an impressive return, with some top level strikers unable to get even close to such an output.
But it is key misses, often in key moments, like the Wembley spot kick, that mean he will remain a polarising figure for Spain fans.