Spain stumble past Ukraine

Alvaro Morata's first Spain goal earned La Roja an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Ukraine at Sanchez Pizjuan in Euro 2016 qualifying on Friday.

The Juventus striker made his competitive bow for the Iberian nation, with Andres Iniesta and David Silva flanking him in an attacking triumvirate.

Elsewhere, Juanfran and Jordi Alba both regained their places at full-back, while Sergio Busquets was fit enough to accompany Isco and Koke in central midfield.

Last but not least, Iker Casillas continued to see off the challenge of David de Gea between the sticks by claiming his 161st cap against Mykhaylo Fomenko's side.

Spain had to beat Ukraine in order to take control of second place in Group C and stay hot on the heels of pace-setters Slovakia, who faced Luxembourg.

Consequently, Vicente del Bosque's troops started by far the brightest, playing the ball with speed and at will, and should have made their early dominance count before they did

Morata was at the heart of Spain's missed chances, failing to tap into an empty net from Silva's cross after the first two minutes, before seeing an effort ruled offside.

Nonetheless, he refused to throw in the towel and eventually got his just rewards, reading Koke's perfectly-clipped through ball and lifting his finish over Andriy Pyatov.

Ukraine's best opportunity, meanwhile, came from Artem Fedetskiy, who ballooned over a free kick in the box, while Ruslan Rotan fired a shot inches wide from the Spain D.

Spain should have put the game out of sight on the cusp of half-time, however, when Sergio Ramos headed a set-piece onto the post, leaving everything to play for in the second half.

La Roja's profligacy seemed to give Ukraine a jolt in confidence, and they were ultimately unfortunate to not earn at least a draw for their efforts.

Rotan continued to pose the visitors' most potent goal threat and should have scored the equaliser from Casillas' misguided backpass, but the veteran immediately atoned for his error from close range.

The right-back, on the other hand, proved a constant thorn from set-pieces and again peeled off his marker to poke the ball off-target, when he ought to have tested the goalkeeper.

Spain eventually held on to extend their unbeaten run at home to 28 matches and open a three-point lead over Ukraine in second place of Group C.

Spain 1-0 Ukraine

Morata 28

Spain: Casillas; Juanfran, Ramos, Pique, Alba (Bernat 79); Busquets, Koke, Isco; Silva, Morata (Pedro 65), Iniesta (Cazorla 74)

Ukraine: Pyatov; Fedetskiy; Khacheridi, Kucher, Shevchuk; Tymoshchuk, Rotan; Yarmolenko, Stepanenko (Garmash 76), Konoplyanka; Zozulya (Kravets 32, Budkivskiy 90)

Referee: Cakir [TUR]

Tags Euro 2016 Spain Ukraine