Portugal draws at Spain, Haaland scores in Nations League

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Portugal scored late to earn a 1-1 draw at Spain in their Nations League opener on Thursday, while Erling Haaland led Norway to a 1-0 win at Serbia.

Substitute Ricardo Horta equalized for Portugal with eight minutes remaining to cancel out Álvaro Morata’s 25th-minute opener for the hosts in Sevilla.

Cristiano Ronaldo began the game on the bench and only came on for the final half hour with Portugal trailing. Spain kept international soccer’s all-time top scorer in check but failed to keep a marker on Horta when João Cancelo found him all alone in the box to convert his cross.

Horta was making just his second appearance for Portugal — nearly eight years after making his international debut back in 2014.

“This feels good because Spain is a very strong team and we were playing on the road,” Portugal forward Bernardo Silva said. “This is a good result for Portugal.”

Teenager Gavi started for Spain in his hometown and helped set up the opening goal after the 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder stole a pass by Cancelo to start a counterattack. Gavi raced forward and slid a perfectly weighted pass forward for Pablo Sarabia, who squared the ball for the unmarked Morata to score.

Spain’s Carlos Soler had a chance to shoot from the top of the area four minutes later but hit it straight at goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

Rafael Leão almost leveled for Portugal in the 59th but goalkeeper Unai Simón got a foot on his shot to push it wide. Simón, however, could do little to keep out Horta’s strike.

“We failed to finish them off, but we were playing against a great team,” Morata said. “We have to keep working hard as always. There is not weak rival in this group.”

In the same group in League A, the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 2-1 at home.

Jan Kutcha put the Czechs ahead in the 11th after Switzerland failed to clear a long throw-in and Kutcha only had to tap in.

Noah Okafor pulled Switzerland back just before halftime with a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar, but an own goal by Djibril Sow handed the Czechs the win.

The four group winners in League A will qualify for the Final Four in June next year. The group winners in the lower leagues will gain promotion.

Poland beat Wales 2-1 on Wednesday in the inaugural match of this third edition of the UEFA Nations League, which several teams will use as preparation for the World Cup in November.

LEAGUE B

Haaland helped Norway get off to a good start in League B. The striker, who is set to join Manchester City, scored in the 26th from a pass by Marcus Pedersen to down the Serbs in Belgrade.

Sweden also won 2-0 at Slovenia in the same group.

In a different group in League B, Shon Weissman’s 84th-minute goal earned Israel a 2-2 draw at home against Iceland.

LOWER LEAGUES

Greece got a first-half goal from Tasos Bakasetas to win 1-0 at Northern Ireland in Group 2 of League C.

Georgia routed Gibraltar 4-0 while Bulgaria was held 1-1 at home by North Macedonia in Group 4 of League C.

Estonia beat San Marino 2-0 in League D.

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