Goals from Jordi Alba and Alvaro Negredo gave Spain a 2-0 win over Finland in their World Cup qualifier.
Vicente Del Bosque surprised many by naming Iker Casillas in the starting XI for the crucial match. The Real Madrid man was given his place in the side, despite not playing for Los Blancos this term. Elsewhere, the tactician opted for Raul Albiol at centre-back instead of the suspended Gerard Pique, whilst David Villa, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro took their places up front.
And it was the Atletico Madrid man who set the template for La Roja inside three minutes with a rasping shot from the edge of the area. Finnish goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa was more than equal to the effort though.
The visitors continued to press for an opening, but it was the Scandinavian side who went closest when new Celtic striker Teemu Pukki pounced inside the area, only for Casillas to save well from close range.
But the visitors made them pay on 19 minutes when Fabregas laid in Jordi Alba, who finished like a striker from six yards out.
Villa went close to making it 2-0 on the half hour mark, only to skew his shot wide of the far post, but they had to settle for a slender lead going into half time.
After the break, Spain continued to dominate possession and chances created. Pedro went close after Andres Iniesta’s superb through-ball on 47 minutes, before Jordi Alba again threatened on goal, only for Maenpaa to produce a fingertip save.
The tempo and intensity dropped off dramatically late on. Alvaro Negredo’s effort was blocked late on, but the Manchester City striker had a second bite of the apple on 85 minutes and slotted home to double La Roja’s lead.
Finland 0-2 Spain
Scorers: Jordi Alba 19 (S), Negredo 85 (S)
Finland: Maenpaa, Toivio, Moisander, Pasanen, Arkivuo, Ring (Hamalainen 69), Tainio (Riski 69), Halsti, Schuller, Eremenko, Pukki.
Spain: Casillas; Koke, Ramos, Albiol, Alba; Mario Suárez, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro (Cazorla 80), Cesc (Negredo 70), Villa (Navas 54)