Rodrigo plays dual role in denying Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden as Leeds United pair savour World Cup qualification with Spain

Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo played a dual role to help Spain book their ticket to next year's Qatar World Cup through Sunday night's 1-0 win against Sweden in Seville.

Sunday, 14th November 2021, 10:10 pm

Rodrigo's Whites team mate Diego Llorente also looked on as an unused substitute from the Spain bench as Alvaro Morata's late strike ensured Luis Enrique's side finished top of their qualification group at runners-up Sweden's expense.

Enrique made six changes to the side that started Thursday night's 1-0 victory against Greece in Athens in which Rodrigo replaced debutante Raul de Tomas with 33 minutes left.

Espanyol forward De Tomas kept his place in the front line alongside Thursday's match winner and Sporting Lisbon's PSG loanee Pablo Sarabia but RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo completed the front three as Juventus attacker Morata dropped to the bench.

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JOB DONE: Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo, left, races off to celebrate with match-winner Alvaro Morata whose late strike sealed a 1-0 win against Sweden in Seville. Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images.

At the back, Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte partnered Villarreal's Pau Torres at centre-back as Athletic Bilbao's Ingo Martinez moved to sit amongst the substitutes.

Spain dominated possession in the first half but without having a shot on target despite Sarabia going close when curling an effort wide from the edge of the box.

The hosts had 71 per cent of the possession but the best two chances of the half fell to Sweden who twice went close through Emil Forsberg who twice fired just wide.

The Swedes then squandered a glorious chance three minutes after the restart when a terrible pass across his own box from Cesar Azpilicueta created an opening for Alexander Isak who lashed his attempt over the bar.

De Tomas then went close for Spain when putting a free header wide from a corner but Rodrigo was finally called for in the 59th minute as part of a double change made by Enrique which also saw Morata introduced.

De Tomas and Sarabia both made way, Rodrigo immediately taking up his position in the no 9 role, flanked by Morata on the left and Olmo on the right.

Morata fired wide shortly after and Rodrigo then moved out to the right as Olmo took up a more central position before Morata moved in there.

After Rodrigo had seen a shot blocked and Morata had blazed over, Morata finally produced Spain's first genuine shot on target when racing through the middle, only to see his effort saved by 'keeper Robin Olsen.

But moments later MorAta provided a neat finish to ensure Spain were heading for Qatar, the forward following up a stunning strike from Olmo which Olsen had tipped on to the bar.

The 86th-minute strike proved the only goal of the game despite Sweden rallying in search of a leveller and Rodrigo put in strong late defensive work to deny the visitors for whom Zlatan Ibrahimovic was brought on with 17 minutes left.

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Thank you Laura Collins