Mario nets debut winner

Mario Gaspar scored a debut winner as Spain beat Ukraine 1-0 in their final Euro 2016 qualifier on Monday, despite Cesc Fabregas' missed penalty.

The Chelsea midfielder was given the captain's armband to mark his 100th appearance for La Roja, in what was an all-changed XI named by Vicente del Bosque.

Elsewhere, late call-ups Mario Gaspar and Xabier Etxeita were handed their international debuts, while Kiev marked Thiago Alcantara's first cap in over a year.

Ukraine, on the other hand, could have still achieved a runners-up spot in Group C, providing they bettered Slovakia's result against Luxembourg.

In a first half devoid of much life, Spain took advantage of a rare opening through Mario, who headed Thiago Alcantara's ball across goal into an empty net, with Nolito the architect.

The Celta Vigo star was involved again moments later as he slipped Fabregas in behind, yet the former Barcelona man's penalty was easily saved by Andriy Pyatov.

With news of a Slovakian goal in Luxembourg having filtered through, Ukraine immediately responded, only to be denied by David de Gea at the top of his game, the Manchester United goalkeeper superbly keeping out Artem Kravets and Ruslan Rotan back-to-back from close range.

Ukraine upped the tempo after the restart in a desperate bid to pull a goal back but probably threw the kitchen sink a little too soon as Spain eventually absorbed their attacks and closed the game out with trademark ease.

In fact, they came the closest to scoring for a second time, Thiago and Isco playing an intricate one-two with a deft pair of flicks and Mikel San Jose seeing his thunderous strike from Paco Alcacer's rebound chalked off for a Nacho foul in the build-up.

Nonetheless, Mikhail Fomenko's troops fluffed three great chances. Yarmolenko first had a shot blocked off the line by Nacho, before David de Gea superbly tipped over, followed by another important save down low to keep out Serhiy Rybalka's shot from the penalty spot.

The result means Ukraine must try their luck in the playoffs, which will commence in November.

Spain 0-1 Ukraine

Mario 21

Ukraine: Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Rotan (Zinchenko 87), Stepanenko; Yarmolenko, Garmash (Rybalka 58), Konoplyanka; Kravets (Seleznyov 87)

Spain: De Gea; Mario, Nacho, Etxeita, Azpilicueta; San Jose, Cesc (Mata 64); Isco, Thiago, Nolito (Alba 75); Alcacer (Busquets 85)

Referee: Mazic [SRB]

Tags Euro 2016 Spain Ukraine
La Liga - Club News