Pablo Sarabia’s penalty kick in the 27th minute was enough for Spain to eliminate hosts Greece from the 2022 World Cup finals and leapfrog Sweden, 2-0 losers at already eliminated Georgia, for the lead in Group B Thursday.
Spain had to work hard for its win at Athens’ Olympic Stadium, but Greece once again showed an inability to create goal chances and a flurry of activity in the latter stages of the game was not enough.
Spain now leads the group with 16 points, one ahead of Sweden, with Greece at 9 points, Georgia at 7 and Kosovo bringing the rear with 4.
Spain now only has to avoid defeat at the hands of Sweden in Seville Sunday to automatically qualify. The second-place team will move to playoffs, along with the two best finishers outside the top two with the highest ranking from the Nations League competition. The 12 teams will play two rounds of playoffs with 3 emerging as the remaining European qualifiers for the World Cup finals in Qatar in November-December 2022.
Greece will end up third in the group, irrespective of the result of its final game against Kosovo in Athens Sunday. Georgia has completed its schedule.