La Roja looked set to be held to yet another frustrating draw before scoring a dramatic stoppage-time winner
Luis Enrique joked that he was “on the verge of a heart attack” after his Spain side needed a last-minute winner to beat Georgia in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
After drawing with Greece in their opening qualifier on Thursday, Enrique’s side looked set for another frustrating result in Tbilisi when the game tipped over into stoppage-time with the scores level at 1-1.
However, RB Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo spared Spain’s blushes when he fired in a shot from distance that goalkeeper Giorgi Loria could only push into the roof of the net to seal all three points.
What did Enrique say?
Speaking to TVE after the game, Enrique, who celebrated Olmo’s late goal wildly on the touchline, said: “I was on the verge of a heart attack. We have been losing confidence and you could see that in the first half.
“We conceded from a slight defensive error and knew it would be complicated from that point on. Our intention was to play more passes inside and create more opportunities.”
Asked if Spain deserved their victory against a side ranked 83 places below them in the FIFA rankings, Enrique added: “Yes. And if people think we don’t then I do not care.
“If you score in the 90-something minute it is because you have worked hard for the goal. Each win will lift our morale but we cannot afford to relax now.”
The bigger picture
Spain have not lost a World Cup qualifying game for 28 years but went into Sunday’s clash on a run of just one win in five matches, including Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Greece in Granada.
Things looked to be getting even worse when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Georgia a half-time lead in front of 15,000 fans in Tbilisi.
Manchester City’s Ferran Torres slid home Jordi Alba’s cross to equalise but it took Olmo’s last-gasp effort to secure a victory many thought would be a formality before kick-off.
The result leaves Spain second in Group B, two points behind leaders Sweden who maintained their perfect start with a 3-0 win in Kosovo.
Spain have mustered just five shots on target across their opening two qualifiers, but Enrique says that is down to the defensive tactics of the opposition – something he is anctipating again when his side face Kosovo on Wednesday.
“There are no small rivals, especially when they drop deep and defend in numbers. If you are not on top of your game then you will suffer,” he said.
“Unfortunately this is the way it is going to be against Kosovo as well.”
Enrique dismisses Ramos injury talk
Enrique also insisted captain Sergio Ramos was not injured despite the Real Madrid defender being an unused substitute against Georgia, having also been taken off at half-time against Greece.
The 34-year-old has only just recovered from an ankle injury and also had knee surgery earlier this season.
“He is fine,” said Enrique. “I know that whatever I decide with Ramos it is going to generate controversy and debate. I am prepared for any situation.”