London Olympics 2012 football: Euro champions Spain bow out
London: Spain`s poor performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games continued with a drab goalless draw with Morocco, a result which sees both sides eliminated from the competition.
Both sides had very few chances in front of goal on a day of changing weather in Manchester. Spain came the closest to winning the game with a crisp passing move in the first half but Adrian Lopez’s low shot struck the post, while Morocco’s only sight of goal came on the hour but Abdelaziz Barrada was denied by the left knee of David de Gea.
After losing both of their opening games the Spaniards had nothing but pride to play for and Luis Milla named a strong starting line-up as they went in search of that elusive victory. Manchester United`s De Gea continued in goal at his home stadium, while the Chelsea duo of Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata also started.
Morocco came into the game knowing that a win combined with a Japan win over Honduras could see them qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.
As the game kicked into action La Roja quickly settled into a familiar style of play. The inter-play from the young side was a joy to watch but it was all too easy for the Morocco defence to deal with and they very rarely got behind to test Mohamed Amsif.
Morocco were forced to play on the counterattack for the majority of the first half, but this suited the North African with Nordin Amrabat and Zakaria Labyad particularly impressive with their movement, vision and creativitiy but only Labyad came close to testing De Gea when his long-range free-kick fizzed wide of goal.
It wasn’t until the 31st minute that the game had its first real moment of action and it came at the end of another Spanish passing masterclass. Mata found himself on the ball just outside the Morocco penalty area, spotted the run of Adrian and played a great through ball into the striker but his low shot crashed against Amsif’s left hand post and rebounded to safety.
After a monsoon-like deluge of rain at half time, the teams came out in the second half and continued with their neat brand of passing football but both sides struggled to display a killer instinct in front of goal.
Morocco had their first clear sight of goal on the hour when a neat pass from Amrabat released Barrada inside the Spain penalty area. The forward was one-on-one with De Gea but his low shot was deflected wide by the keeper’s left knee.
Nine minutes later Adrian beat the Morocco offside trap and found himself alone with the only Amsif to beat, however, the Atletico Madrid man tried to be too clever and chip the keeper but in the wet conditions he only managed to scuff the ball wide of goal.
As the game neared its conclusion the game began to be stretched but neither side were able to produce something of real quality to win the game.
Mata and substitute Cristian Tello both saw good chances fly over Amsif’s crossbar, while at the other end Labyad’s audacious attempt at the back post didn’t worry De Gea.
Spain could, and probably should, have won the game in the final minute but Amsif made an excellent save from Lopez. The Moroccan keeper tipping the ball onto the crossbar from a tight angle.