MADRID: Spain rose to the top of Group C in the European Championship qualifying competition with a 2-0 win over Slovakia, with goals coming from Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta.
The European champions made a fine start in Oviedo with Alba heading home David Silva’s superb through ball in the fifth minute. On the half hour, Spain made it 2-0 after Diego Costa was fouled in the area by goalkeeper Matus Kozacik, allowing Iniesta to slot home.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque had named David De Gea, at the centre of last week’s transfer fiasco between Manchester United and Real Madrid, on the substitutes’ bench with Iker Casillas starting.
Third-placed Ukraine made light work of Belarus to win 3-1 and put further pressure on Slovakia.
Artem Kravets opened the scoring after seven minutes before Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka made it 3-0 at the interval. Sergei Kornilenko pulled a goal back from the spot for Belarus but it was too late to prevent Ukraine from beating them for the second time in qualifying.
Luxembourg rounded off the Group C action with a 1-0 win over FYR Macedonia, courtesy of Sebastien Thill’s stoppage time strike.
In Group G Russia narrowed the gap behind second-placed in Group G to a single point with a 1-0 win at the Otkeytie Arena as Artem Dzyuba’s first-half strike went unanswered.
It now looks like a straight shoot-out between them for the second qualifying place as Austria stretched clear at the top with a 1-0 win over Moldova. Zlatko Junuzovic scored the only goal of the game as Austria have now gone four Euro 2016 qualifying games without conceding a goal.
Montenegro might be out of contention but they at least claimed a 2-0 triumph over Liechtenstein as Stevan Jovetic bagged his fourth goal in three games and was also the provider for Fatos Beciraj’s opener.