Fati arrives on international stage as Spain take control
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Paris (AFP) –
Ansu Fati announced his arrival in international football on Sunday after becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of the Spanish national team in a 4-0 thumping of Ukraine that put them top their UEFA Nations League group.
Barcelona forward Fati put Spain three goals ahead after just 31 minutes of the League A, Group 4 clash at the empty Alfredo di Stefano Stadium in Madrid with a fine individual strike that came amid a scintillating debut start for his adopted country.
Aged 17 years and 311 days, Fati, who was born in Guinea-Bissau and obtained Spanish nationality a year ago after moving to Spain when he was seven, beat the previous record held by Juan Errazquin, who scored three goals aged 18 against Switzerland in 1925.
"As soon as I was showered and changed I called my family – they are the people who have helped me reach this day and who always help me overcome challenges," Fati said after the match.
"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."
Having already won the penalty that captain Sergio Ramos converted just two minutes after kick-off, he could have scored just minutes before finding the net when his close-range bicycle kick was unwittingly cleared just as it looked to be heading in.
Fati's strike -- a super curling shot after fine footwork on the edge of area -- came just three minutes after Ramos had put Spain two up with a beautiful looping header from Dani Olmo's cross. Substitute Ferran Torres completed the rout five minutes from the end.
The easy win leaves Spain top of Group 4 on four points, one ahead of Sunday's opponents but more importantly two in front of Germany who were held to a second consecutive 1-1 draw, this time with Switzerland.
- Germany disappoint -
Ilkay Gundogan gave Germany the lead on 14 minutes but Swiss right-back Silvan Widmer to equalised for the hosts just before the hour mark behind closed doors in Basel.
It was the second time in as many matches that Joachim Loew's team had failed to capitalise on going ahead after conceding a leveller in the seventh minute of stoppage time against Spain on Thursday.
The away side started strongly but the hosts began pouring forward soon after going behind, with Benfica forward Haris Seferovic hitting the post for the Swiss just before half-time.
They deservedly equalised when Borussia Moenchengladbach striker Breel Embolo, one of six in the Swiss team who play for German clubs, picked out Widmer who beat Bernd Leno on 58 minutes.
Germany had Leno to thank they earned a point, with the Arsenal man making a string of good saves, in particular from a well-struck free-kick from his Gunners teammate Granit Xhaka five minutes before the end.
Earlier Russia carried on their strong start in League B with a 3-2 win over Hungary in Budapest that would have been less tense had they not switched off when three goals up.
Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov blasted as "unacceptable" his team letting the hosts back from the dead, with a deft chip from Freiburg attacker Roland Sallai and Nemanja Nikolic's powerful finish giving Hungary 20 minutes to try to complete what would have been a remarkable comeback.
However the Russians held out to make it two wins from two and take top spot in Group 3, three points ahead of the Hungarians.
"Two games, two wins -- that's the main thing and besides, we've now got food for thought before the next games," said Cherchesov.
Wales also kept their perfect record in Group 4 following promising teen Neco Williams's last-gasp header which gave them a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bulgaria.
Williams' first goal in professional football at the age of 19 made it four successive wins in all competitions for Wales and leaves Ryan Giggs' side top of the group on six points.
They are three ahead of Finland who earned a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin thanks to Fredrik Jensen's strike just seconds after coming on midway through the second half.
© 2020 AFP