VALENCIA: Holders Spain marked the opening of the Euro 2016 qualifying competition by following up their World Cup collapse with a 5-1 win over Macedonia.
The 2010 world champions crashed out at the group stage in Brazil after losing 5-1 to Holland in their opening game but it was Sergio Ramos, one of the scapegoats that afernoon, who set them back on track with a ‘Panenka’ penalty after 16 minutes.
Spain doubled their lead a minute later when Paco Alcacer, on his home ground, marked his first competitive game for his country with a goal.
Agim Ibraimi pulled one back from the spot for the visitors on the half-hour mark but Sergio Busquets added a Spanish third just before half-time. David Silva and Pedro scored more goals in the second half.
Elsewhere in Group C, Ukraine lost 1-0 at home to Slovakia, Robert Mak scoring the 17th-minute winner.
There was a surprise in Luxembourg as well as the hosts held Belarus to a 1-1 draw. Lars Krogh Gerson put the hosts ahead three minutes before the break and they led until the 78th minute when Stanislav Dragun equalised.
Like Spain, England also endured a miserable World Cup and they too responded in impressive fashion in their Group E opener as a second-half brace from new Arsenal signing Danny Welbeck earned a 2-0 win over Switzerland in Basle.
Estonia left it late to beat 10-man Slovenia, substitute Ats Purje with the winner four minutes from time after Dalibor Stevanovic had been sent off in the 80th minute.
In the same pool Lithuania won 2-0 in San Marino thanks to goals from Deividas Matulevicius and Arvydas Novikovas.
Russia, who also failed to live up to expectations in Brazil, set the early pace in Group G following a 4-0 win at home to Liechtenstein, although they were given a helping hand by their opponents.
The visitors scored two own goals to put Russia 2-0 in front, Martin Buchel putting through his own net after four minutes and Franz Burgmeier following suit five minutes after the break.
A Dmitri Kombarov penalty five minutes later made it three before Artem Dzyuba completed the scoring.
Montenegro also got off to a winning start, seeing off Moldova 2-0 thanks to goals from Mirko Vucinic and Zarko Tomasevic.
Austria and Sweden drew 1-1, David Alaba putting the Austrians ahead with a seventh-minute penalty and Erkan Zengin equalising five minutes later.