Spain cruise to Macedonia win

Spain recorded a comfortable win over Macedonia to get their Euro 2016 qualification campaign off to a successful start.

Sergio Ramos netted from the penalty spot to open the scoring while Paco Alcacer claimed a first La Roja goal a minute later.

The Valencia striker converted a lovely move involving Cesc Fabregas and Juanfran, the Atletico Madrid right-back teeing up Alcacer after meeting Fabregas’ back-post cross.

Juanfran was the guilty party in helping Macedonia back into the game though, conceding a penalty converted by Agim Ibraimi.

Spain passed up some presentable chances for a third before Sergio Busquets smacked a volley from the edge of the penalty area on the stroke of half time.

Silva added a fourth not long after the break after neat work on the edge of the Macedonia box, the Manchester City playmaker teed up by Jordi Alba.

Pedro wrapped it up with an injury time fifth following another delightful pass from the heavily-involved Silva.

Munir El Haddadi made his Spain debut for the final 10 minutes or so, committing himself to the country of his birth as he had been eligible to play for Morocco.

Only four players remained from last week’s friendly defeat to France – Ramos, Sergio Busquets, Fabregas and Koke, who was a little fortunate not to see red for a high challenge.

The pitch at Ciutat de Valencia was heavily watered prior to kick-off and pools of water were visible on the grass, the ball slowing down in the water.

It was Macedonia who had the first real chance on goal, but Spain stepped up the pressure until David Silva was tripped as he turned inside the penalty area, Greek referee Tasos Sidiropoulos pointing to the spot.

Ramos stepped up and chipped the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards while Alcacer scored from closer still after Fabregas and Juanfran linked up.

Macedonia offered little threat beyond the early set-piece but that was in part down to Spain’s hard work in regaining possession any time the Red Lynxes looked like breaking.

But Juanfran went to ground on a rare Macedonia foray into the penalty area and Agim Ibraimi scored the resulting spot kick with Iker Casillas going the wrong way.

Pedro almost restored Spain’s two-goal lead and Alba, Silva and Alcacer had chances before Busquets took charge, drilling a shot from range after a period of sustained pressure.

Casillas made the first save of the second half but Spain’s first lengthy attacking spell produced the fourth goal and essentially sealed the win.

Fabregas thumped the crossbar after Alba and Silva again combined well and Silva, Isco and Pedro sent shots wide as Spain looked for a fifth.

It came when Spain regained possession deep in the Macedonia half and Silva slipped Pedro in, the Barcelona winger chipping the goalkeeper as Spain opened the defence of their European Championship with a deserved victory.

Spain 5-1 Macedonia

Ramos pen 15, Alcacer 16, Busquets 45+2, Silva 50, Pedro 90+1 (ESP), Ibraimi 29 (M)

Spain: Casillas; Juanfran, Ramos (Barta 68), Albiol, Alba; Busquets, Koke (Munir 78), Fabregas; Pedro, Alcacer (Isco 57), Silva

Macedonia: Pacovski; Cuculi, Mojsov, Sikov, Ristovski, Aliovski (Demiri 46); Ibraimi, Abdurahimi (Velkoski 75), Spirovski (Radeski 64), Trajkovski; Jahovic

Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos

Tags Euro 2016 Spain
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