Ansu Fati became Spain’s youngest ever goalscorer and Sergio Ramos scored twice as Spain cruised past Ukraine in Madrid.
Spain vs Ukraine: as it happened
Match in brief
There was a preview of the highlight of the first half with just three minutes played. Fati tormented Serhiy Kyrvstov for the first time on the left, earning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted precisely.
The captain secured his third international brace by looping a header over Andriy Pyatov just before the half-hour mark, only for 17-year-old Fati to steal his thunder with a wonderful strike three minutes later.
Making his first start for Spain, the Barcelona prodigy cut inside from the left flank yet again before fizzing a spectacular finish beyond Pyatov from outside the penalty area. Ferrán Torres added his own first Spain goal late on as the hosts moved top of Group A4, one point ahead of second-placed Ukraine.
Graham Hunter, Spain reporter: Football’s a funny sport when a team like Spain can set records, give debuts and watch Ramos inching up the all-time goal list, yet still leave a sense that there’s a lot of work to be done. Partly it’s a verdict based on knowing their coach, Luis Enrique, very well. He’s a driven, tough, demanding man. There are few like him. As much as he’ll be thrilled by the assurance shown by all of his new boys, from Sergio Reguilón to my man of the match, Fati, he’ll be privately critical. Spain’s formation worked only in patches, the pressing was a little less intense than against Germany and, even in the face of a fine 4-0 win, there should have been more goals. A work in progress.
Bogdan Buga, Ukraine reporter: Sometimes you need these kind of lessons to learn. Ahead of this campaign, Ukraine were anxious about testing themselves against the best teams in Europe. Well, now they have and it was certainly a learning experience. That’s the only positive as the rest was below par. To be honest, we watched two teams from different classes. But I do have hope that this is only a temporary setback.
Luis Enrique, Spain coach: “At Ansu’s age, it would be easy for things to go to his head, but this guy is too mature for that. He already knows he’s got to follow the right route – he’s laidback and humble about what’s happening to him. That doesn’t mean we won’t have matches when things don’t go so well for Ansu, when he makes mistakes. All that simply forms part of his apprenticeship. All the same, his achievements to date are far from normal.”
Ansu Fati, Spain striker: “I’m super proud to have made my full debut for Spain – before I went out, the coach just told me that I’d only ever make one full debut and to enjoy myself. I’ll ask all the guys to sign this Spain shirt and it’ll go up on the wall in a special place in my house, alongside my debut Barça shirts from the Liga and Champions League.”
Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine coach: “It was our second game at this top level and it was too hard for us. Our players gave it all and I don’t have any complaints with them. But unfortunately the Ukrainian league doesn’t give them enough opportunities to feel such intensity of play. Spain are the super-team. We put a lot of effort in against Switzerland and it was very hard to prepare physically for this game. Unfortunately, the level of our two teams was very different.”
Bogdan Mykhaylichenko, Ukraine defender: “It was very hard. We had to run a lot without the ball; we needed to fight for the ball all the time. Our goal was to test ourselves against a top team, but we made too many mistakes. When you concede an early goal against such teams it becomes much harder.”
- Spain have now won ten and drawn three of their last 13 matches (including friendlies).
- La Roja have won their last seven home games, scoring at least three goals in 12 of their last 14 competitive contests in Spain while conceding just one.
- They are unbeaten against Ukraine, who had only lost one of their previous 22 matches, in six meetings – winning the last five.
- At the age of 17 years and 311 days, Ansu Fati is the youngest ever goalscorer for Spain.
- Sergio Ramos has overtaken Julio Salinas to move joint eighth in the all-time Spain scoring list.
- The defender is level on 23 with the forward the setting for this match was named after – Alfredo di Stéfano.
Spain: De Gea; Jesús Navas, Ramos (E. García 61), Pau Torres, Reguilón; Olmo, Rodri (Óscar 69), Thiago Alcántara, Merino; Fati, Gerard Moreno (Ferrán Torres 74)
Ukraine: Pyatov; Tymchyk, Matviyenko, Kryvtsov, Mykhaylichenko; Kharatin (Sydorchuk 63), Malinovskyi; Yarmolenko (Kovalenko 79), Zinchenko, Yaremchuk; Marlos (Tsygankov 55)
Group A4 continues next month, with Spain vs Switzerland and Ukraine vs Germany on Saturday 10 October.