Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has Luis Enrique in his thoughts



Posted Friday, September 06, 2019 by PA

Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has Luis Enrique in his thoughts

Kepa Arrizabalaga said the death of Luis Enrique’s daughter made for a difficult build up to Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifying win over Romania.

Spain began life without former coach Enrique by recording a 2-1 success in Bucharest to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group F.

Tragedy struck in the lead up to the game when Enrique, who resigned in June due to family reasons, last week lost nine-year-old daughter Xana following her battle with bone cancer.

Chelsea goalkeeper Arrizabalaga, who ensured his side victory with two vital late saves, said his thoughts were with Enrique and called for Spanish fans to show support for the 49-year-old during Sunday’s qualifier against the Faroe Islands in Gijon.

“We send a very big hug to Luis Enrique in these difficult times,” said Arrizabalaga, according to the Spanish FA’s website.

“It has been a complicated week for everyone.

“You have to look forward. It is not easy, but life sometimes gives you these blows.

“We want to continue adding (against) the Faroe Islands. We must call on the fans of Gijon to honour Luis Enrique.”

There was a minute’s silence in memory of Xana ahead of kick-off in the Romanian capital.

Enrique had been absent for qualifiers against Malta, the Faroe Islands and Sweden earlier this year due to his personal circumstances, before stepping down.

Robert Moreno took charge of the team for the first time as permanent head coach on Thursday, having previously filled in on an interim basis.

Sergio Ramos’ penalty and a strike from Paco Alcacer earned Moreno a debut victory, which was made nervy by Romania substitute Florin Andone halving the deficit with half an hour to play and Diego Llorente’s 79th-minute dismissal.

Arrizabalaga, who was selected ahead of Manchester United’s David De Gea, then twice saved from George Puscas in stoppage time as the visitors hung on.

Moreno praised the crucial late contribution of the 24-year-old.

“I am glad that he helped us in the end, but I am just as happy with the work of others,” said Moreno.

“It is true that it has saved us in the end, and that stands out.

“I encourage everyone to continue working and they will give us joy in the future.”

Spain had looked on course for a comfortable victory after dominating proceedings but were almost made to pay for numerous missed chances.

Moreno added: “In the second half, with the score against them (Romania), they have opened up a little more.

“They are a complicated team and in the end these things happen in football.

“We would like the whole game to have been like the first half but you do not always get that.”

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