Luis Enrique relieved as Spain pop Cava bottle with big Slovakia win


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Group E - Slovakia v Spain - La Cartuja Stadium, Seville, Spain - June 23, 2021 Spain coach Luis Enrique celebrates after Aymeric Laporte scores their second goal Pool via REUTERS/Jose Manuel Vidal

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Luis Enrique admitted he was relieved to be proved right that Spain were like a bottle of Cava waiting to pop after his side ended their struggle for goals in style with a 5-0 thrashing of Slovakia at Euro 2020 on Wednesday.

The coach made the comparison before the game on the back of disappointing draws against Sweden and Poland in which they mustered one goal.

It was a different story against the Slovakians, as Spain let loose to show their true potential for the first time at the tournament.

But Luis Enrique was not getting carried away with the result as his side secured second spot in Group E to reach the last 16.

"We will go step by step. I’ve spoken about what I believe we can achieve and the expectations we have as a national team and I haven’t changed my opinion," Luis Enrique told a news conference.

"We have certainly popped that bottle of Cava, therefore we are delighted, we are pleased the fans and players have had a good time. Now it’s time for us to get another bottle of Cava and see if we can pop that too."

Spain’s victory was the biggest of the tournament and came courtesy of goals from Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres, as well as Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka own goals.

"It is a relief. Not just for me, but in terms of what it means with our ability to achieve a convincing result with our style," Luis Enrique added.

"I believe people can have plenty of complaints, but I really don’t think there can be any criticisms of today. We will prepare for the Last-16 with plenty of confidence and we’re desperate for Monday to come around soon."

Next up for Spain is a last-16 clash with 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in Copenhagen on Monday, a side captained by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric.

"They are a top team with players we know well, we played in the Nations League two years ago as well," Luis Enrique said.

"It will be a tough match but when you get to last 16 you can’t expect easy teams."

Luis Enrique made four changes to his starting line-up for the Slovakia game including picking midfielder Sergio Busquets, who was named 'star of the match' by UEFA in his first Euro 2020 appearance since returning to the squad after 12 days in self-isolation as he recovered from COVID-19.

"This is likely to be my final European Championship so I was desperate to get here. Finally I got the test result I wanted and they made me feel welcome when I arrived," Busquets said.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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