Luis Enrique made it clear he will not accept anyone blaming David de Gea for Spain's Nations League defeat to Ukraine.

La Roja's 15-game unbeaten run came to an end in Kiev thanks to a second-half goal from Viktor Tsygankov.

Spain had nearly 72 per cent of the possession, attempted 21 shots to Ukraine's two and were denied eight times by goalkeeper Georgi Bushchan, although they did not create many clear-cut opportunities.

They paid the price for a moment of poor concentration 76 minutes in, as Andriy Yarmolenko played in Tsygankov right through the heart of the defence, and the substitute blasted past De Gea from the edge of the area with the Manchester United goalkeeper having been caught well advanced from his line.

The goal will likely prompt further debate about De Gea's place as Spain's number one, with his form for club and country having been questioned for much of the past two years.

However, head coach Luis Enrique was not prepared to listen to reporters apportion blame on the 29-year-old.

"You can always do more, but blaming De Gea is already a bad habit," he said.

"If David is blamed for a game like this, switch it off and we'll leave."

He continued: "If you attack in a continuous way, you know there are transitions. If a team defends and keeps it at 0-0, they grow, and in one action they've caught us. We have to congratulate them.

"Nothing happens because in one or two games you don't score goals. We created chances to kill them off. It was a game clearly under our control, with opponents closing the passes and the passing lines.

"We created chances with Adama [Traore] through his overlapping. In the end, we went into panic mode. I've lost lots of these games in my career. The opponent is growing and then in a transition…

"The conclusion is I liked the attitude of the players. I like what I see."

Spain midfielder Rodri admits they must find ways to mitigate their worrying lack of strikers after a shock defeat to Ukraine on Tuesday.

La Roja's 15-match unbeaten run came to an end in Kiev thanks to a 76th-minute strike from substitute Viktor Tsygankov.

Spain had 72 per cent of the possession, 21 shots overall and forced goalkeeper Georgi Bushchan into eight saves, yet they struggled to create many clear-cut opportunities against their deep-lying opponents.

Adama Traore, Ansu Fati and later Ferran Torres were lively on the wings, but Rodrigo Moreno was scarcely involved as the centre-forward, while Mikel Oyarzabal, who replaced him just before the hour mark, had only one shot.

A solitary effort on target proved enough for Andriy Shevchenko's men, though, as Andriy Yarmolenko played in Tsygankov as Spain's defence switched off and the Dynamo Kiev midfielder fired beyond David de Gea, who had strayed out of position.

Luis Enrique has spoken of the need for Spain to get goals from different areas of the pitch given the lack of a world-class striker and, after scoring just once in three games this month, Manchester City midfielder Rodri has echoed those thoughts.

"We weren't planning on losing here, but we knew it would be very difficult. They made things difficult for Germany," he told Teledeporte.

"We dominated the game but we lacked the finesse of other days in front of goal. They got forward once and they scored a goal.

"We have to learn from these errors. The coach said we don't have a great goalscorer and we need everyone to work.

"It's always more difficult. No national team wins all the time."

Sergio Reguilon believes Spain can still be pleased with their overall performance and is confident they are on the right track ahead of next year's European Championship.

"We have to correct the mistakes and improve things but try to look at the good things," said the Tottenham full-back.

"Playing like this, with a bit more success up front, we can win. Going forward, we have to be more direct and incisive."

Spain suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in Tuesday's Nations League clash as Luis Enrique's side endured an unhappy return to the scene of one of their greatest triumphs.

There were around 20,000 fans inside Kiev's Olympic Stadium, the venue where La Roja won Euro 2012 to cap an unprecedented four-year spell of dominance.

Spain had less to celebrate this time, though, as goalkeeper Georgi Bushchan made eight saves to keep Luis Enrique's side at bay before Viktor Tsygankov capitalised on some slack concentration at the back to score the winner 14 minutes from time.

Spain remain top of their group but there will be plenty to play for when the competition resumes next month.

Bushchan tipped over a header from Rodrigo Moreno as Spain started positively, and Ansu Fati should have done more than shoot straight at the keeper after Sergio Canales nudged the ball into his path.

Bushchan got fingertips to a Sergio Ramos free-kick, denying the defender a goal to mark his 175th international appearance, the same number as veteran Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Ukraine had just 21 per cent of the ball in the first half and scarcely got near David de Gea's goal, but they should have taken the lead early in the second, Oleksandr Zubkov dragging a shot well wide after Serhiy Sydorchuk put him clean through.

Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal came on to freshen the Spain attack, but it was Rodri who next came closest, whistling a low shot just wide of the left-hand post from the edge of the area.

Bushchan stayed big to deny Oyarzabal from close range and Ferran following a dazzling run, before his kick led to the breakthrough.

With Spain's midfield and defence out of position, Andriy Yarmolenko played in Tsygankov and he drove through the gap between the centre-backs to finish expertly past De Gea, who had strayed curiously far from his line.

 

What does it mean? Spain stay top but stern tests are coming

Spain are one point above Germany in Group A4, but with games against Joachim Low's side and Switzerland to come in November, they are in need of some renewed attacking vigour.

They have scored just once in three matches in this international break and the concerns about their lack of in-form number nines is not likely to have diminished.

Ukraine are level with Germany on six points and could yet spring a shock by progressing to the finals.

Traore passes his test

Making his first Spain start here, Adama Traore showed he deserves a regular spot down the right-hand side.

He was an obvious threat with his direct runs all game, but there was, crucially, an end product. He misplaced just two passes and provided more than double the number of crosses than any other player.

Luis Enrique needs more from midfield

Spain's middle three have become adept at keeping games under control - they had kept five clean sheets in six games before this defeat – but they offer little by way of an attacking threat.

Luis Enrique ideally needs players more willing to break the lines and support the central striker, with Rodrigo too often isolated as crosses kept coming in.

What's next?

Next month, Spain face the Netherlands in a friendly before Nations League matches with Switzerland and Germany. Ukraine must also play the other two sides in the group after a friendly with Poland.

Rafael Nadal has been labelled as "the pride of our country" by Spain boss Luis Enrique following his latest French Open triumph.

Nadal made it 13 Roland Garros titles with a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday, taking him level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slams.

It was his 100th match win at the event in Paris at a major he has dominated, losing only twice.

Nadal's supremacy in his 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier was underlined by the fact he made just 14 unforced errors to his opponent's 52.

And Luis Enrique, whose side face Ukraine in the Nations League on Tuesday, heaped praise on his 34-year-old compatriot.

"I want to congratulate him on behalf of the [Spanish Football] Federation," he said.

"I remember his way of facing failures and his respect for his opponents. 

"He is the pride of our country. He offers us a lesson in life."

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Roger Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Spain boss Luis Enrique has defended Ansu Fati after he struggled to impact the 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League.

The 17-year-old Barcelona winger, who is his country's youngest ever goalscorer, played 57 minutes in Madrid before being replaced by Wolves star Adama Traore.

Fati failed to capitalise on two good openings in the match, managing just one shot and creating zero opportunities for team-mates.

He also failed to muster a cross and lost four of his seven duels as Switzerland's 3-5-2 system proved tricky to break down, with Silvan Widmer and Nico Elvedi providing tough opposition down the Spain left.

"Man-marking is always a problem for the forwards, for everyone," Luis Enrique said on Monday as Spain prepare to face Ukraine. 

"Our goal is to create the greatest number of advantages for our attackers. After that, each game is how it is.

"Ansu is 17 years old, but he already knows what he's going to find in matches.

"We have our model because it depends on the work of the whole team. Against Switzerland, it was a difficult game for everyone because of the strong and high pressing from them, but I think we solved things well."

Spain's attack was also frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Portugal last week, but defensively the 2010 world champions have looked impressive.

In a 15-game unbeaten run stretching back to November 2018, La Roja have conceded only six goals and kept nine clean sheets.

Luis Enrique is happy to see the likes of Pau Torres, Eric Garcia and Diego Llorente perform well in a battle for a starting spot and also believes the younger players can help captain Sergio Ramos improve.

"Pau, Eric and Diego have done well, each one contributing in their place and trying to improve," he said.

"They are able to play with someone who is a benchmark, like Ramos, and they feel they can play with him, help him and even correct him. Leaders also know they can learn new things."

Spain coach Luis Enrique would not have his side denied credit for their goal against Switzerland, insisting it came about because of La Roja's mentality rather than an error by the visitors.

Luis Enrique saw his side claim a slender 1-0 victory over Switzerland in Madrid on Saturday, with Mikel Oyarzabal's 14th-minute effort ultimately decisive.

The Real Sociedad attacker provided a neat finish after a sloppy pass from Yann Sommer gifted possession back to Spain as Switzerland attempted to play out from the back.

The situation was exacerbated by Granit Xhaka – the intended recipient of the pass – slipping, and Mikel Merino managed to nudge the ball through to his club colleague to add the finish.

While most will likely blame Sommer's mistake for the goal, Luis Enrique believes it was more down to the success of Spain's high press.

"It was not their failure, it was a great success from the pressure of Spain," he told reporters.

"The reward was huge, it is a great win for the team. I remember only one clear chance for Switzerland, whereas we could have finished the game off in several situations, with Ferran [Torres] in the first half and several in the second, but it is not easy.

"There is nothing I did not like about the performance. To pressure a team like Switzerland, who had three centre-backs and two midfield pivots, is complicated.

"I am also proud of the final stages of the game. At other times we would have gone backwards and today we have done the opposite, we continued to go forward so they couldn't create chances."

The victory extended Spain's unbeaten run to 15 games, while they remain top of Nations League Group A4 with seven points – two more than Germany – from three matches.

Spain go to Ukraine next on Tuesday.

Spain stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches across all competitions as they beat Switzerland 1-0 in Madrid on Saturday to remain in charge of Group A4 in the Nations League.

Luis Enrique's men had impressed without finding the net in their friendly draw with Portugal last time out, but Mikel Oyarzabal – the winger chosen to lead the line against the Swiss – provided the decisive touch in the 14th minute to leave La Roja with seven points from three games.

Although Switzerland threatened first, it was a rare attack in an opening half dominated by Spain, who opened the scoring soon after through Real Sociedad star Oyarzabal's well-taken finish following a defensive mishap by the visitors.

Spain crafted several opportunities to extend their advantage in the second period, and while they were ultimately unsuccessful, the away side's lack of potency in attack meant one goal was enough.

Xherdan Shaqiri has been given the green light to feature for Switzerland in Saturday's Nations League clash against Spain in Madrid after another negative test for coronavirus.

The Liverpool winger was originally set to miss the double header against Spain and Germany after testing positive for COVID-19, which meant he sat out the 2-1 friendly defeat to Croatia on Wednesday.

However, when a later test came back negative Shaqiri was granted permission to travel to Spain, although his availability for the clash remained unclear.

The Swiss Football Association confirmed on Friday that Shaqiri has now been cleared to play.

A statement read: "The Spanish health authority gave the green light late on Friday evening for Xherdan Shaqiri to play in the UEFA Nations League game on Saturday 10 October 2020 between Spain and Switzerland in Madrid. 

"The decisive factor was the national player's additional negative COVID-19 test, which has been available since tonight [Friday].

"In addition to Shaqiri, all players and staff members of the Swiss national team were also tested negative in Madrid."

Ronald Koeman concedes Barcelona's financial situation restricted his movement in the transfer market as deadline day passed without any further incomings at Los Cules.

The likes of Arthur, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez departed Camp Nou during the window, while Barca brought in Miralem Pjanic and Sergino Dest, and youngsters Trincao, Pedri and Matheus Fernandes also signed on.

Lyon forward Memphis Depay was among those linked with a late switch to Barca, the Netherlands international thought to have been keen on a reunion with Koeman.

However, with Barca having announced €97million in losses and a decrease of €203m in revenue – factors blamed on the coronavirus pandemic – no further reinforcements were brought in.

"The squad is okay, I'm happy with the squad I have," Koeman told Barca TV. 

"We have tried to improve the squad and in some positions we could, in some others we couldn't. That was because of the financial situation of the club, so we have to accept it and keep working."

Ansu Fati's early-season performances have been a major plus, with the 17-year-old scoring three goals in as many LaLiga games.

The exciting forward has also made the breakthrough into Spain's full national team and Koeman knows he has a special talent on his hands.

"So far, his performance has been the best possible. We are talking about a 17-year-old player," he added. 

"At that age to play three games in a row at such a high level means he is very good, a great talent. 

"Of course he still has a lot to learn, but he is a boy eager to keep learning, he trains every day to improve, so we are here to help him out. 

"Now he is with the national team. Right now, there is nobody in the world who is 17 years old to play in such a high-level national team as Spain are."

Dani Ceballos wants to see Sergio Ramos marauding across Europe with Spain next year before going for gold in Tokyo.

The prospect of a European Championship and Olympic Games double has been shunted back by 12 months, and Ramos will be 35 by the time they take place.

But the captain of Real Madrid and Spain has indicated an appetite for playing in both, and Ceballos would love to see him flying the flag both in his home continent and in Japan.

The European Championship will be played across a host of countries, with Spain having home advantage for their three group games which will all be played in Bilbao.

Everything is conditional on the pandemic situation allowing such tournaments to go ahead, but Ceballos, who is also hoping to double up, sees Ramos as a leader who would lift Spain on the Olympic stage.

"Sergio has earned the right to decide by the performance he gives," said Spain midfielder Ceballos.

"I always want him in my team. He has been a fundamental player, he continues to be, and of course I would want to have him at the Olympic Games on my side."

The European Championship final is due to be played on July 11 in London, a mere 11 days before the Olympic men's football tournament begins in Tokyo.

Ceballos spoke of there being 15 days' difference and suggested that was "still compatible" with being able to take part in both.

Regardless of the exact gap between those events, it will be demanding for any player to fully commit to both.

Midfielder Ceballos just wants to make sure he has a chance of being involved regularly with Spain, which is why again this season he is on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid.

At Arsenal he is set for an integral role under Mikel Arteta's leadership, but there were no guarantees he would be a fixture in Zinedine Zidane's Madrid team.

"You know that to take part you have to play for your team," Ceballos said.

"When a player is happy in his team that is for the best and that is why I decided to stay for one more year at Arsenal where I could develop my game as normal.

"After confinement we have seen a Dani Ceballos that we all wanted. I have improved a lot and I am very happy to continue at Arsenal."

Wolves winger Adama Traore has insisted he is not thinking about a potential return to former club Barcelona despite holding regular talks about the club with Camp Nou prodigy Ansu Fati.

Traore emerged through Barca's famed academy ranks but failed to make the first-team grade and is now excelling at Molineux after spells with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

The 24-year-old continued his upward rise by winning his first cap for Spain in Wednesday's stalemate with Portugal, earning praise from boss Luis Enrique after the friendly.

He has been linked with a return to Barcelona in the past but, despite still having close ties to the club, the speedy wide man is only focused on improving his game at Wolves.

"It's not my decision whether I would suit Barcelona. My mentality is to work every day to be better," Traore said at a news conference previewing Saturday's Nations League clash with Switzerland.

Asked about his close friendship with Fati, who set yet another record last month by becoming Spain's youngest ever goalscorer, Traore revealed no topic is off limits between the pair.

"We talk about everything," he said. "Even some more general topics because I have been at the club for many years and so has he.

"We met in the academy and have spoke about things to do with the team, the things that we happened together at Barcelona. We know each other well."

Luis Enrique talked up Traore's incredible physique on the back of the goalless draw in Lisbon, but the Wolves man has reiterated weight lifting is not part of his training programme.

"I don't do weights because my genetics make me gain a lot of muscle," he said. "I just do work to be in the best condition."

Switzerland forward Xherdan Shaqiri has tested negative for coronavirus and has been granted permission to travel to Spain ahead of Saturday's Nations League clash.

Shaqiri became the third Liverpool player in the space of a week to test positive for the virus on Tuesday and was ruled out of Switzerland's 2-1 friendly loss to Croatia on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old was also expected to sit out the games against Spain and Germany in the Nations League over the next five days but his latest test has come back negative, though he is still awaiting the green light from UEFA to play in both games.

However, team-mate Manuel Akanji - who like Shaqiri has spent time self-isolating - has once again tested positive, which could have a knock-on effect for club side Borussia Dortmund.

"The Swiss Football Association received this morning the written results of the national team A Covid-19 tests carried out yesterday on all players and staff," a statement read. 

"Only Manuel Akanji tested positive. All other tests are negative, including that of Xherdan Shaqiri. 

"There is currently only one positive case for the coronavirus in the national team. Akanji is in isolation and still has no symptoms. Other medical examinations are underway. 

"All other national team players and staff will fly to Spain this afternoon, where the UEFA Nations League game against the Group A leaders takes place on Saturday.

"Following Xherdan Shaqiri's negative Covid-19 test, the UEFA health committee must now decide on his eligibility to play on Saturday. 

"At this stage, it is impossible to know when the decision will be taken. Shaqiri flies to Spain as planned."

Shaqiri has played just once for Liverpool this season and has yet to feature in a Premier League matchday squad.

Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara are the other two Liverpool players to have contracted COVID-19 over the past fortnight.

Spain and Portugal have confirmed their commitment to putting forward a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. 

The two countries announced in December they would investigate staging the global competition, ruling Morocco - previously said to be involved - out of a three-nation proposal. 

Ahead of Wednesday's friendly between the sides in Lisbon, which finished in a goalless draw, the Spanish and Portuguese federations ratified an agreement to share the event.  

"This agreement means an important step for this common project of federations, but also for the countries," RFEF president Luis Rubiales said in a statement. 

"Soccer, sport, is a magnificent tool to inject strength and will to overcome in these moments of great difficulty. 

"Few things can be more exciting than the opportunity to organise a World Cup and we cannot think of a better partner than Portugal. We go hand in hand with the Portuguese Federation." 

Qatar are the next hosts of the tournament in 2022, while Canada, United States and Mexico are set to stage it four years later. 

A decision on where the 2030 World Cup will be held is due to be made by FIFA in 2024, with the bidding process starting in 2022. 

Morocco are also in the running, as are Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile in a four-way bid.

Luis Enrique felt Adama Traore showed his "purest form" as he appeared to nail his colours to the Spain mast in a lively international debut.

Traore's international future has been the source of some speculation after the Wolves winger was called up to both the Spain and Mali squads for this window.

The player, who is eligible for each country, belatedly made his bow for La Roja on Wednesday in a goalless draw against Portugal and could become cap-tied in the coming week.

Traore had twice earlier been called up but missed out due to injury and then coronavirus, yet patient head coach Luis Enrique saw exactly the player he had hoped for in Lisbon midweek.

The Spanish-born star appeared for just 28 minutes from the bench but created a huge chance for Dani Olmo, who shot straight at Traore's club colleague and Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

"Adama has been Adama in his purest form," Luis Enrique said of Traore, who was marked by Nelson Semedo, yet another Wolves man.

"That is what we want him to be, with his ability to beat opponents. He has played a killer pass to Dani Olmo that did not lead to a goal.

"With one player they will not to be able to stop him. They are going to have to use two players."

Portugal struck the crossbar through Cristiano Ronaldo and Renato Sanches at the other end, and Luis Enrique certainly felt there was no shortage of entertainment despite the scoreline.

"People cannot be sad today for not having seen goals," the Spain coach said. "It was fun. We created that, and who scores interests me very little."

Luis Enrique would not complain if future matches were a little calmer, however, adding: "Sometimes we do not read the game well.

"We have phases in which we lose control. I do not like that the games go crazy."

Opposite number Fernando Santos was not enthused, meanwhile, similarly feeling Portugal needed to have a firmer grasp of proceedings.

Portugal boss Santos, who described the opening stages as "miserable", said: "It will be a different game [against France in the Nations League] for which we'll have to take a different approach.

"We'll have to work well and with another degree of focus. I hope we're at the best level in that game."

Portugal and Barcelona forward Trincao said it is "impossible" to pick between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world's best player. 

Trincao plays alongside Portugal captain and all-time leading goalscorer Ronaldo at international level, while he joined Barcelona great Messi at Camp Nou this season. 

Ronaldo and Messi have claimed the Ballons d'Or 11 times between them, with the latter the recipient of a record six gongs. 

Trincao was asked about the superstar duo following Portugal's goalless draw with Spain in Wednesday's friendly. 

"I am extremely proud to be able to play with both [Ronaldo and Messi]," the 20-year-old told RTP3 post-match in Lisbon. 

"It is impossible to say who is the best."

Ronaldo and Renato Sanches both rattled the crossbar in the second half against Spain, as the two countries faced each other ahead of upcoming Nations League fixtures. 

Portugal travel to face world champions France on Sunday, the day after Spain host Switzerland. 

"A difficult match against a very organised team. It is very good to start from this match against such a strong team," Trincao said as he reflected on the match, which saw him start in a front three alongside Ronaldo and Andre Silva. 

"I will just do my job, I am prepared to play, just like my team-mates, then the decision is up to the master."

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