GETAFE, Spain June 8 – Spain’s final warm-up game ahead of their European Championship title defence could not have gone much worse, as they were beaten at home by minnows Georgia.
Tornike Okriashvili netted in the 39th minute to stun the Spaniards, who will want to forget this occasion in a hurry ahead of their first match of Euro 2016, against the Czech Republic in six days’ time.
Thiago came close to opening the scoring for the hosts midway through the first half but the midfielder saw his shot from the edge of the box rebound off the inside of a post.
Instead, Georgia claimed a shock lead with six minutes remaining before the break.
Two individual errors in the Spanish defence allowed Jambul Jigauri space in the box and he crossed for Okriashvili to tap home.
Andres Iniesta and Nolito both went close to equalising for Vicente del Bosque’s side after the interval but La Roja were well contained by the visitors and were unable to level the tie at Coliseum Alfonso Perez in the Madrid suburb of Getafe, as the away team survived a mammoth nine minutes of stoppage time.
That left Georgia ranked 137th in the FIFA world rankings, some 131 places below Spain, celebrating one of the most famous victories in their footballing history.
In terms of world rankings, the hosts have never been beaten by a worse side.
Spain’s defeat will have been well received in Northern Ireland, too.
The result means that Michael O’Neill’s men go into Euro 2016 with the longest unbeaten run 12 matches of all the 24 nations competing in France this summer.
‘We have an extraordinary challenge ahead of us,’ Del Bosque said after the game. ‘We can’t let this result affect us.’
Del Bosque started an XI similar to the one expected to play against the Czechs on Monday in Toulouse.
The only surprise was the inclusion of Real Madrid forward Lucas Vazquez, who made his first international appearance. Andres Iniesta came into the match at half-time.
‘They didn’t give us any space,’ Del Bosque said. ‘With Iniesta we cleared some lines and understood the game a little better. We lacked the final scoring touch.’
When asked about striker Alvaro Morata, who was left on the bench because of discomfort in his thigh, Del Bosque said: ‘We preferred not to play him so he’s in top form for the Euro 2016 opener.’