Morata scores twice as Spain beats Malta 2-0 in qualifier

TA’ QALI, Malta (AP) — Alvaro Morata scored a goal in each half to lead Spain to a comfortable 2-0 win over Malta on Tuesday, its second consecutive victory in qualifying for the 2020 European Championship.

Morata opened the scoring with a left-footed shot from inside the area in the 31st minute and added to the lead with a header in the 73rd to leave Spain at the top of Group F with six points from two matches.

La Roja has two points more than Sweden, which drew 3-3 at Norway. Malta, which opened with a 2-1 win over the Faeroe Islands, stayed on three points. Spain beat Norway 2-1 at home to open its qualifying campaign.

“It was important to win so we can try to qualify as quickly as possible,” Morata said.

Spain controlled Tuesday’s match from the start, keeping Malta from getting near its goal. The Spaniards finished with 80 percent of ball possession at the National Stadium.

Morata scored his first international goal since 2017 after a long pass by central defender Mario Hermoso, who was among the many changes coach Luis Enrique made to Spain’s lineup.

Luis Enrique was not with the squad because of personal problems, and assistant coach Robert Moreno was in charge during the game.

“We had extra motivation today,” Morata said. “We wanted to win for our coach.”

Spain will next play at the Faeroe Islands on June 7, while Malta visits Sweden.