Tearful Busquets delighted to play his part in record-equalling Spain win

By Sports Desk June 23, 2021

Sergio Busquets had to wipe away the tears after reflecting on his experience of missing Spain's opening two Euro 2020 matches after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Barcelona midfielder was not part of Spain's squad for their Group E draws with Sweden or Poland after being made to self-isolate.

However, Busquets returned to the starting line-up for Wednesday's 5-0 win against Slovakia as Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a European Championship game.

Own goals from Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka bookended strikes from Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres in La Roja's emphatic victory in Seville.

Spain are the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition after France (1984), Denmark (1984), the Netherlands (2000) and Sweden (2004).

And the record-equalling win for Spain was a particularly emotional occasion for Busquets, who was named the official man of the match for his impressive midfield display.

"I'm excited to be here," he said through tears in his post-match interview. "I had a pretty bad time at home for 10 days not knowing if I would return or not.

"This result was what we needed. The fans were behind us and we played well from the beginning. We were so much stronger today and got the luck we didn't previously have.

"I accept the criticism we have faced, but not the lack of respect and more from people who have also been here."

Busquets won all three of his aerial duels against Slovakia, gained possession five times and played a joint-high two key passes.

He was taken off with around 20 minutes to play, but the midfielder put that down as a precautionary measure.

"I feel very well," he added. "Just before I was taken off I felt my calf a bit and the coach did not want to risk it.

"Hopefully now I can continue to accumulate minutes. Today is another step for me and now I'm prepared for anything that comes."

Spain needed a victory to guarantee a place in the last 16, where Croatia now await in Copenhagen next Monday, after being held by Sweden and Poland.

The victory for La Roja was their landmark 50th at major tournaments, making them the fourth European side to reach that milestone after Germany, Italy and France.

Sarabia, who scored the third of Spain's goals and assisted Torres' flicked finish, hopes his side can use the victory to build confidence in the knockout stages.

"We needed this to restore people's enthusiasm," he said. "The team played 20 very good minutes, with brutal intensity. We deserved the victory.

"We know the Croatia game will be difficult, but we also know the potential of this team."

Related items

  • Tokyo Olympics: Durant and Team USA roll with the punches to bring gold closer Tokyo Olympics: Durant and Team USA roll with the punches to bring gold closer

    Kevin Durant admitted Team USA were caught with "a nice haymaker" from Australia before clambering to their feet and reaching another Olympic final.

    The Americans scored a 97-78 victory at the Saitama Super Arena, putting a fourth successive gold medal at the Games within reach.

    But at one stage in the second quarter Durant and co trailed 41-26, with the Australian Boomers making a fast and purposeful start to the semi-final that they could not maintain.

    It was at the point the USA side fell 15 points behind that they took a timeout, and from that stage onwards they dominated, Durant leading the team with 23 points and nine rebounds.

    Australia shot just 25 of 61 – 41 per cent – from the field, whereas USA managed 38 of 74 and dominated the boards 44-29 in what became a convincing victory.

    "We've been down 15 in games before and came back," Durant said. "It doesn't matter what level it was at, or where it's at. A lot of guys have been in that position before. We know how to handle ourselves.

    "We kept our composure and we knew that we could get back into the game pretty fast, if we got stops and got out and ran. So we've got to give credit to Australia because they came out and hit us with a nice haymaker, but we were able to get back up and get that lead back."

    It came as no surprise to Durant that Australia began as they did.

    "We knew Australia would come out fast and hit us with a nice punch. We know that teams want to get us down early, see how we respond," said the Brooklyn Nets star.

    "A lot of these guys got continuity for years and years, so they know how to play with each other. I feel like a lot of teams are expecting us to fold early.

    "We stuck with it, stuck with our principles, made a couple of switches on defence, and we were able to get some momentum going into the half. Guys came out with that intensity, making shots as well."

    The 32-year-old Durant is chasing a third gold medal of his Olympic career, having played on the London 2012 and Rio 2016 teams.

    For Jrue Holiday, who is coming off an NBA championship-winning season with the Milwaukee Bucks, this is a first Olympic experience.

    Like Durant, he saw no need for panic after Australia began Thursday's semi-final so strongly.

    By half-time, Australia's lead had been cut to just 45-42, and a 32-10 third quarter for the USA showed their firepower.

    "I think we played the game long enough to know that there's always a chance," Holiday said. "So we took that six minutes in the second quarter and kind of ramped it up, and went into half-time in the position that we liked."

    Australia have finished fourth in Olympic men's basketball four times, never going further and claiming a medal.

    They will have a bronze-medal game to come in Tokyo and must pick themselves up to go again.

    Jock Landale scored 11 points against the USA, and the Melbourne United star accepted it was tough for Australia to keep up their early high level.

    "It's hard. It's really hard. They're great basketball players, they're smart basketball players," Landale said.

    "They figure out what you're doing and they just find ways to exploit it. I think we started turning the ball over in that third quarter and they were just living in transition, and that's tough to beat. They're the most athletic guys in the world, so I think that's probably where we lost them."

  • Scherzer lands 10 K's in Dodgers debut, Gausman finds form for Giants Scherzer lands 10 K's in Dodgers debut, Gausman finds form for Giants

    Max Scherzer has started life with the Los Angeles Dodgers in style, tossing down 10 strikeouts in their 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros in MLB on Wednesday.

    Scherzer joined the Dodgers from the Washington Nationals upon last week's MLB Trade Deadline.

    The 37-year-old right-hander had 10 K's across seven innings, only allowing five hits and two runs.

    Scherzer becomes the seventh pitcher to strike out 10 or more players in their first Dodgers start since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

    The pitcher's display fuelled the 52,724 fans at Dodger Stadium, sparked after striking out Jose Altuve on four pitches.

    "The crowd was definitely into it and you can feed off that, you definitely get some adrenaline from that," Scherzer said.

    "To go out there and pitch well and to have the fans ask for a curtain call for me, I've never had that happen, so that's a cool moment and something I'll never forget."

    Baez stars for Mets, Gausman finds form

    Javier Baez dazzled in the New York Mets' 5-3 win over the Miami Marlins that ended their three-game losing run. Baez hit a solo homer in the eighth but also completed an incredible second-inning slide for home plate.

    San Francisco Giants pitcher Kevin Gausman re-captured some form as he sent down eight strikeouts across six innings as they triumphed 7-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Two-way star Shohei Ohtani always elicits a lot of excitement but he had no at-bat impact yet tossed down six strikeouts across six innings, allowing only one earned run, in the Los Angeles Angels' 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers.

    New recruits Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson all delivered for the Atlanta Braves, with the former pair homering and the latter with a double in their 7-4 victory over the St Louis Cardinals.

    Bryce Harper starred again with his 17th home run of the season as the Philadelphia Phillies won 9-5 over the Washington Nationals.

    Mejia tough shift for Indians

    The Cleveland Indians had mounted a good run in the American League Central but their 8-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays leaves them 52-53, having lost three of their past four games. They were not helped after trailing 8-0 after three innings as Jean Carlos Mejia allowed seven hits and eight earned runs early.

    Rizzo makes Yankees history

    Anthony Rizzo hit his third New York Yankees home run to become the first player with RBI in each of his first six games in their long franchise history as they won 10-3 over the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees have been around since 1903.

    Wednesday's results 

    Cincinnati Reds 6-5 Minnesota Twins
    Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Seattle Mariners
    Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
    Oakland Athletics 5-4 San Diego Padres
    Philadelphia Phillies 9-5 Washington Nationals
    New York Yankees 10-3 Baltimore Orioles
    Toronto Blue Jays 8-6 Cleveland Indians
    Boston Red Sox 4-1 Detroit Tigers
    New York Mets 5-3 Miami Marlins
    Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Texas Rangers
    Kansas City Royals 9-1 Chicago White Sox
    Atlanta Braves 7-4 St Louis Cardinals
    Chicago Cubs 3-2 Colorado Rockies
    San Francisco Giants 7-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
    Los Angeles Dodgers 7-5 Houston Astros

     

    Mariners at Yankees

    Rizzo will look to continue his hot form for the Yankees (58-49) when they host the Seattle Mariners (58-51) in the first of their four-game series.

  • Rumour Has It: Grealish set for Man City medical to complete move from Villa Rumour Has It: Grealish set for Man City medical to complete move from Villa

    Jack Grealish's mooted move to Manchester City appears set to imminently go through.

    City manager Pep Guardiola has long admired the 25-year-old England midfielder.

    English champions City have also been linked with Harry Kane as they chase an elusive Champions League crown.

    TOP STORY - GREALISH BOOKED IN FOR MAN CITY MEDICAL

    Aston Villa's Grealish is on the cusp of completing his £100million transfer to join Manchester City, according to the Birmingham Mail.

    The report claims Grealish was due to arrive in Manchester on Wednesday, with a medical booked in.

    Grealish returned from a holiday after Euro 2020 this week and was spotted at Villa training on Wednesday but has since reportedly headed north.

    ROUND-UP

    - Sky Sports claims Aston Villa are lining up a move for Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell as they prepare for Grealish to depart.

    - Tottenham are plotting moves for PSV's Noni Madueke and Denmark's Euro 2020 star Mikkel Damsgaard according to the Evening Standard, as they plan their windfall from Harry Kane's potential sale to Manchester City.

    - Fresh from Danny Ings leaving for Villa, Southampton are closing in on Blackburn forward Adam Armstrong, reports Football League World.

    - The Sun claims Norwich City are looking to launch a £15m bid for Blackburn's Armstrong too. Irish prospect Adam Idah could be included in a player-plus-cash deal.

    - Atalanta are set to hold talks with Chelsea for a move for striker Tammy Abraham according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.