Nolito scored a brace and Emir Spahic went from hero to villain as Spain began their Euro 2016 preparations with a 3-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Hector Bellerin and Marco Asensio made their Spain debuts as Vicente del Bosque named an experimental line-up in St. Gallen, while Bosnia started with proven pedigree in Chelsea’s Asmir Begovic and Roma pair Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, among others. Ognjen Vranjes of Sporting Gijon was also in at right-back.
With Del Bosque yet to announce his final squad for the tournament, Nolito did his best to book his spot as he scored with the game’s first shot on 10 minutes, curling a shot first time across Begovic, despite the goalkeeper getting both hands to it, for the Celta Vigo star’s first international goal.
Nolito then grabbed his second of the match, when he picked the ball up in the Bosnia box from a failed corner and lobbed Begovic with a delightful chip-shot.
Bosnia’s evening took a turn for the worst with Edin Dzeko taking a knock and being forced off, yet they did pull one back through Spahic, who climbed above Marc Bartra to head a corner past Sergio Asenjo.
However, the game spiralled out of control in first-half added time, Vranjes’ attempt to block Silva from taking a throw resulted in the midfielder pushing the defender away. Spahic then intervened and raised his arm at Silva for a straight red card.
Bosnia brought on Eibar’s Izet Hajrovic for the restart, and the winger made an instant impact as he broke down the right, before cutting inside and picking his spot, but his effort flew a yard wide of Asenjo.
The hour mark in Switzerland paved the way for Inaki Williams, Mikel Oyarzabal and Diego Llorente, along with Denis Suarez before them and Pablo Fornals in the dying embers, to make their senior debuts, and the quintet didn’t appear fazed, if not able to truly express themselves.
Nonetheless, Bosnia continued to probe and edged ever closer, the lively Haris Duljevic stepping off the bench to give Bellerin the run-around down the left, coming in-field and whipping a dangerous cross into the box for Djuric to nod past Asenjo, but the striker’s glancing header clipped the post.
Asenjo then made a vital save to his left to keep out a curling shot from the Spain D, but that was to be the end of Bosnia’s momentum as Oyarzabal came the wrong side of the post from marking his bow with a goal after he ghosted in from the right to meet Denis’ through ball.
The win was ultimately wrapped up with the final kick of the game, Williams taking a touch before curling a shot on target, which Begovic pushes away, and Pedro Rodriguez doing his best to stop the ball from going out of play by netting from point-blank range.
Spain 3-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Nolito 11, 18, Pedro 90 (S) Spahic 29, sent off 45 (BiH)
Spain: Asenjo; Bellerin, San Jose (Fornals 83), Bartra, Azpilicueta; Cesc (Llorente 60), Bruno; Silva (Denis 46), Asensio (Williams 60), Nolito (Oyarzabal 60); Aduriz (Pedro 46)
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Begovic; Vranjes (Memisevic 90), Spahic, Kolasinac, Zukanovic; Visca (Hajrovic 46), Besic, Pjanic, Hadzic (Medunjanin 67); Hodzic (Duljevic 57), Dzeko (Djuric 21, Grahovac 78)