Spain were again haunted by their inability to finish off chances as they drew 1-1 with Poland, after missing a second-half penalty to leave their hopes of making the Euro 2020 knockouts hanging in the balance.
Alvaro Morata gave Spain the lead in the 25th minute but Poland, who had hit the woodwork twice in the first half, deservedly drew level with a towering header from Robert Lewandowski in the 54th.
Spain were given a penalty soon after but Gerard Moreno blasted his shot against the post and Morata scuffed the rebound wide, leaving Luis Enrique’s side cursing their profligacy just as in their goalless opening draw with Sweden.
Saturday’s draw left Spain third in Group E with two points and needing a win against Slovakia on Wednesday to guarantee their place in the next round. Poland are bottom with one point but still have a chance of going through to the last 16.
Spain coach Luis Enrique made only one change to the team that had dominated against Sweden but failed to take their chances, bringing in Moreno for Ferran Torres.
Spain played less fluid football than against Sweden but were more direct, while Poland showed far more ambition than the Swedes had and came close to taking an early lead when Mateusz Klich let fly from long range and struck the top of the bar.
But it was Spain who went in front when Moreno cut in from the right wing to cross with his stronger left foot and Morata diverted the ball into the net.
The striker was initially flagged offside but a VAR review gave him the goal and he ran to the sideline to embrace coach Luis Enrique, who has shown so much faith in him in the last two weeks after Morata was booed twice by Spain’s supporters.
Spain nearly doubled their lead when Moreno flashed a free kick wide but Poland came within inches of equalising when Karol Swiderski’s shot skidded off the post and into the path of Lewandowski, who was thwarted by a fine save by Unai Simon.
Spain should have struck at the end of the first half when Moreno hit the side netting from close range.
Poland kept testing the Spanish defence and deservedly found a way through when Lewandowski soared into the air to head Kamil Jozwiak’s cross into the bottom corner.
Spain got an unexpected chance to restore their lead when Moreno was caught by Jakub Moder but neither Moreno nor Morata could keep their composure in front of goal.
Luis Enrique’s side kept looking for a winner but had none of their customary cool and resorted to long balls into the box.
They were not far from finding another goal though, substitute Ferran Torres heading wide and Poland keeper Wojciech Szczesny making two brave saves to thwart Ferran and Morata from point-blank range.
“There was a key moment in the game, which was the penalty. If we’d gone ahead then the game would have changed, but the opposite happened, we felt more tension,” Luis Enrique said after the match.
“I expected to have six points right now and having conceded no goals. But I’m sure we all expected that. If we win on Wednesday we’re through, if we don’t we’re out. The reality is what it is. That’s football, there are always difficulties. Now the moment of truth arrives.”
Morata lamented the result but pointed to the final match against Slovakia ahead.
“It’s another game where the victory gets away from us. We have a final left to be in the last 16. I don’t know what else to say, honestly, whatever I say… The game got away from us.We had chances to win it again. Football is like that,” Morata said.
“We feel confident as always. If we didn’t, we’d be screwed. We know we can work, do well and win. Now we’ll think about the game against Slovakia.”
Speaking about his goal, Morata said: “It doesn’t matter, we drew. That’s the point. I don’t care about scoring or not, honestly, I want to win and we didn’t today.”