Spain stage second-half show

Spain moved top of Group G in 2018 World Cup qualifying as a second-half show brushed aside former leaders Albania 2-0 on Sunday.

Spain went 3-4-3 their trip to Shkoder as Nacho Monreal made his first Roja appearance in three years. Albania, meanwhile, headed into the game with maximum points from their opening two matches to take first place in the pool.

Nonetheless, Julen Lopetegui’s troops set their stall from the first whistle as Gerard Pique emerged with the ball in Albania’s box but slipped before lashing a volley inches wide of Etrit Berisha’s far post.

Intricate passing play down the right was then finished off by Koke, who slides the ball on target, but Berisha denied the midfielder from point-blank range.

Koke was involved again moments later, Thiago Alcantara laying off a shot in Albania’s D for the Atletico Madrid man, but Berisha managed to tip it around the right-hand post.

Spain did have the ball in the net when Vitolo was slipped through in the Albania box, turning his marker for a shot past Berisha, but the attacker was adjudged offside.

Sergio Ramos lifted a cross into the area for Diego Costa, but the Chelsea striker headed the ball wide as La Roja went into the break still goalless.

However, Berisha threw all of his country’’s good work away just 10 minutes into the restart, his clearance falling straight to Vitolo, who fed David Silva, the Manchester City ace in turn squaring for a Costa a tap-in!

A wise substitution from Lopetegui consequently saw Nolito nutmeg his opponent in the box from the left before firing across Berisha for 2-0.

Spain enjoyed over 70 percent possession in final 20 minutes, but their dominance was marred by a potential injury to Sergio Ramos, who was forced off after he stayed down clutching his knee.

Silva went on to lift a free kick half-a-yard over the crossbar for Spain’s 13th and final attempt of the evening, compared to Albania’s one.

Albania 0-2 Spain

Costa 55, Nolito 63

Albania: Berisha; Hysaj, Djimsiti, Mavraj, Agolli; Lila, Xhaka (Hyka 75), Memushaj (Basha 68); Roshi, Balaj, Lenjani (Aliji 46)

Spain: De Gea; Ramos (Inigo 80), Pique, Monreal; Koke, Busquets, Iniesta (Isco 78), Thiago; Silva, Costa, Vitolo (Nolito 60)

Referee: Nijhuis (NED)

Tags 2018 World Cup Albania Spain