Martin Dúbravka was so sick of Spain’s wastefulness he took care of it himself

Slovakia keeper punches ball into own net to boost once mighty, now flighty, soccer power

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Martin Dúbravka had a bad day.
Martin Dúbravka had a bad day.
Photo: Getty Images

Ever watch a game and you’re sure that one player out on the field just has their circuits short out for a second? Their brain becomes the rainbow pinwheel of frustration as things fail to load? It can happen to all of us. It just doesn’t happen to us on a stage quite as big as the one Slovakia’s Martin Dúbravka became a walking 404 error:

We know Spain have been an infuriating watch this tournament, creating chance after chance and finding the most creative ways to Magoo-them outside the posts. Even in this game, Alvaro Morata had already missed a penalty, tamely, as the Spanish’s very specifically targeted agoraphobia continued. It’s been a return to the Spain we all grew up with. Not the swashbuckling conquerors of 2008-2012, but collective shrugged shoulders. It has returned “Spain’ing” to the world’s vocabulary. A battle of who could care less in a nil-nil draw with Sweden. Then it was a classic, “You want this? Nah. You want this?” 1-1 deadlock, this time against Poland. Maybe Dúbravka was tired of witnessing such gluttonous waste. Perhaps he’s a proponent of efficiency. Perhaps he’s weary of capitalism’s excess and emptiness, for which Spain’s play has most certainly been a metaphor so far. So he took it into his own hands, literally, and finally produced an end product that Spain couldn’t, or wouldn’t, find.

Or maybe he just thought he was Deandre Ayton for a second, spiking down the decisive moment into a net. We’ll never know.


But, to his credit and putting a finer point on the idea, Aymeric Laporte added a header in first-half added time, his first-ever goal for Spain, to give it a 2-0 advantage. So it sure seems like Dúbravka was onto something. We’ll find out for sure in the more competitive rounds coming up.