Ramos' 'own' goal
Ramos must get his act together after another poor performance for La Roja
(Daniele De Rossi 82-pen)
Spain's captain sits in the heart of their defence, indulging himself in a game of chance.
Sergio Ramos has gained a reputation for playing on the edge, often leaving himself little room for error.
But the sudden rushes of blood to his head have become far too frequent to ignore.
At the Juventus Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time), Ramos was supposed to provide the leadership, but instead turned into the team's liability.
As Italy swept forward in search of an equaliser, Ramos' moment of madness cost his side a morale-boosting victory.
Spain had gone ahead, when Vitolo profited from Gianluigi Buffon's mistake outside his box to tuck the ball into an empty net.
But Ramos turned out to be the hosts' 12th man, needlessly hacking down Eder in the penalty area to concede a late spot-kick, which Daniele De Rossi successfully converted.
For Spain, the 1-1 away draw in the 2018 World Cup Group G encounter would have felt like two points lost rather than one gained.
As the sleeping giants look to re-establish themselves as a potent force, they need a cool and intelligent head on the pitch to lead by example.
In Ramos, all La Roja have right now is a ticking time bomb.
Yesterday morning's recklessness wasn't a one-off.
In just nine games for Real Madrid this season, he has already given away three penalties - to Sevilla, Osasuna and Villarreal.
His poor defensive discipline during his career has also seen him pick up a La Liga record of 19 red cards and another 153 yellows, which is behind only Fernando Hierro (155) and Alberto Lopo (163) on the all-time table.
Until Ramos' intervention, Spain were looking good for a win which would have snapped Italy's unbeaten home record in World Cup qualifiers.
Bossing the Azzurri with their patient possession game, they stretched the opponents with their crisp passing in a dominant first half.
However, Julen Lopetegui's side, featuring the attacking five of Diego Costa, David Silva, Vitolo, Andres Iniesta and Koke, were unable to come up with the end product.
Defender Gerard Pique came closest to breaking the deadlock with his two headers in the first half.
They finally took a deserving lead after the break, courtesy of a rare Buffon blunder.
The Italian goalkeeper raced out of the box to clear a Sergio Busquets through ball, but missed it completely to allow Vitolo to send the ball into an unguarded goal in the 55th minute.
The Sevilla winger had the chance to kill off the contest soon after, when he was sent racing through on goal after a Koke pass, but he dragged his shot wide.
The miss would come back to haunt Spain.
Italy began to pick up momentum after falling behind and were rewarded eight minutes from time.
As Eder attempted to skip past Ramos in the penalty box, the Spaniard stuck out a leg and hoped for the best, and ended up undoing all the good work his teammates had put in.
The reactions of the game's two villains after the match contrasted starkly.
Buffon, the Italy captain, put his hands up and admitted that his mistake came as a result of his indecisiveness.
Ramos the ticking time bomb came out with arms swinging and vowed to silence his critics.
If he doesn't buck up, one won't be surprised if Lopetegui wields the axe.
After all, La Roja have excellent options at the back.
Waiting on the wings is Marc Bartra, the former Barcelona centre back now plying his trade at Borussia Dortmund.
Javi Martinez, a midfield specialist who is familiar with the centre-half role, has been in superb form for Bayern Munich.
Both are not in the current squad due to injuries.
Ramos must get his act together soon, or it's only a matter of time before Lopetegui goes for form than reputation.
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