La Roja see off stubborn Slovaks

Spain moved top of Group C in Euro 2016 qualifying as they defeated Slovakia 2-0 on Saturday thanks to goals from Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta.

Iniesta and Diego Costa returned to La Roja at the expense of Santi Cazorla, who is only good enough for the substitutes' bench, and the omitted Alvaro Morata, both of whom featured against Belarus in June. Elsewhere, Iker Casillas made his 100th appearance as Spain captain, with David de Gea being forced to watch from the stands.

Slovakia, meanwhile, were without the likes of Martin Skrtel, Juraj Kucka and Vladimir Weiss, so Coach Jan Kozak was forced to reshuffle his pack.

Vicente del Bosque's men needed just five minutes to assert their dominance on the match as David Silva, the game's man-of-the-match for the manner in which he continually kept things ticking over, superbly picked out Alba, who nodded the ball over Matus Kozacik.

La Roja then doubled their lead three-quarters of the way through the half as Costa was felled in the box by Kozacik, although subsequent replays showed the striker to have possibly gone down a touch easily. Nonetheless, Iniesta stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way for his first penalty in international football.

Slovakia, despite getting the ball forward on several occasions, failed to execute any of their counterattacks, but they did come close through Marek Hamsik, whose powerful strike on the half-volley from just outside the box forced a vigilant Casillas into his one and only save.

Silva continued to star for Spain after the break, but the goal he sorely deserved would evade him, from hitting the side-netting, being denied by Tomas Hubocan at the last moment and taking a one-on-one with Kozacik too far wide to missing an open goal as he sliced Costa's overhead kick over from point-blank range.

Dusan Svento emerged as Slovakia's likeliest source of a goal following Robert Mak's half-time substitution, but he spurned both of the chances which fell his way, first sending a header inches wide after beating Casillas in the air, before smashing a volley high and wide from a promising position.

Spain are now assured of at least a playoff spot in Group C and appear on their way towards defending their European Championship crown in France next year.

Spain 2-0 Slovakia

Alba 5, Iniesta 30

Spain: Casillas; Juanfran, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Cesc (Cazorla 67), Iniesta (Koke 85); Pedro, Costa (Alcacer 75), Silva

Slovakia: Kozacik; Pekarik, Salata, Hubocan, Tesak; Gregus, Gyomber, Hamsik (Duda 61); Hrosovsky (Sabo 74), Mak (Duris 46), Svento

Referee: Skomina [SLO]

Tags Euro 2016 Slovakia Spain
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