De Gea limps off injured as Spain book Euros spot with last-gasp equaliser
The Manchester United goalkeeper went off after an hour.
David De Gea suffered an injury that could rule him out of Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool on Sunday as Spain struck a last-gasp equaliser in Sweden to seal qualification for Euro 2020.
The 28-year-old goalkeeper hobbled out of the qualifier following an innocuous-looking incident, having immediately grabbed the back of his thigh after clearing a back pass from his own player.
He sat on the ground in his six-yard box before making his own way off the pitch accompanied by the Spanish medical team.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping the injury is not serious, with a crunch clash against leaders Liverpool at Old Trafford just five days away.
Spain were trailing 1-0 at the time thanks to Marcus Berg’s goal 10 minutes earlier at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, but substitute Rodrigo poked home from close range in injury time to book their spot at next year’s finals.
Sweden made one change from their 4-0 win over Malta, with Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof replacing Marcus Danielson.
Villarreal’s 27-year-old striker Gerard was handed his international debut following an impressive start to the season in LaLiga, where he has scored six goals in eight games. Sergio Ramos was suspended, so his former Real Madrid team-mate Raul Albiol captained the side.
Spain started well and Sweden had goalkeeper Robin Olsen to thank for keeping them in the match early on.
Olsen helped a 20-yard shot by Ruiz Fabian over the crossbar before clawing away a close-range effort from Rodri from the resulting corner.
Then, after 10 minutes, when a fortunate rebound following Thiago’s shot from the edge of the area left him clean through on goal, Olsen managed to get a fingertip to the ball to avert danger as the Spain midfielder looked to go around him.
Olsen was called into action again after 20 minutes to push away Gerard’s header after Lindelof was beaten in the air.
Sweden eventually steadied themselves and then caused Spain some problems with their own period of sustained pressure either side of the half-hour mark.
De Gea was worked for the first time when he had to smother a volley from Mikael Lustig before flying acrobatically across his goal to tip away Robin Quaison’s header, which looked to be headed for the top corner of the net.
Spain survived those fraught few minutes to reach half-time goalless, but Sweden went in front five minutes into the second half.
There was more brilliance from De Gea to keep out Berg and then Sebastian Larsson from point-blank range after Quaison’s cross from the left, but Berg was on hand to head the ball over the line.
Emil Forsberg should have doubled the lead immediately afterwards, but his shot from a central position at the edge of the area was straight at De Gea. Either side of the goalkeeper and it was 2-0, but Forsberg did not get the ball out of his feet.
De Gea hobbled off after an hour and was replaced by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga. At the other end, Gerard sent a header agonisingly wide from a Dani Ceballos cross before the Villarreal striker was then denied by Olsen from close range.
Spain were putting Sweden under pressure but the hosts were defending manfully, with Lindelof repelling almost everything in the latter stages as Spain uncharacteristically opted to play long balls forward.
However, despite their efforts, Sweden were unable to hold on as substitute Rodrigo struck, turning home Fabian’s cross-shot.
Second place in the group remains up for grabs, with Romania now just a point behind Sweden and Norway a further three points back after their 1-1 draw in Bucharest.