MADRID, Sep 13 (Reuters) Coach Luis Aragones's decision not to give a post-match press conference after his side beat Latvia 2-0 at home in their Euro 2008 qualifier, has antagonised the local media.
Spain's win yesterday put them level on 19 points with leaders Sweden in Group F, though they have played one game more. Northern Ireland lost 2-1 to Iceland and slipped back to third on 16.
But any positives gained at having taken control of their destiny in the group was balanced out by the negatives of another uninspiring performance on the pitch.
''Depressing'' was sports daily Marca's front page, adding inside that it was ''A victory to forget.'' Sports daily AS led with ''Victory and tantrum.'' Rumours abounded that perhaps Aragones had quit but Spanish Football Federation spokesman Jorge Carretero played the incident down.
''Luis has not resigned. It was a personal decision. No one can force him to give a news conference. It's his decision and it should be respected,'' Carretero was quoted as telling Radio Marca.
An early goal from Xavi and a late strike from Fernando Torres, his first international goal in a year, did not save the Spain team from whistles of disapproval from home fans, who had hoped for a better reaction to last Saturday's 1-1 draw in Iceland.
They started brightly and were ahead after 13 minutes but once again for all their possession, lacked penetration against a tightly packed defence.
After the game, many players followed Aragones's lead and were unwilling to give their opinions either. The ones that did backed their coach.
''People aren't happy with what is happening. The problem is that we all have to be behind the national team and to pull in the same direction,'' midfielder David Albelda told reporters.
''It seems that not everyone wants Spain to be at the Euro 2008 finals.'' Winger Joaquin added: ''The important thing should be the result.
It was a hard-earned win and we have three more points. This is what matters.'' With three left to play, Spain's next game away to Denmark in October is seen as the key to their qualification. The Danes are fourth on 14 points with a game in hand.
REUTERS BJR PM1737