Spain fire four past Macedonia

Spain stayed top of Group G in 2018 World Cup qualifying as they eventually dispatched FYR Macedonia 4-0 on Saturday.

Spain’s second string looked to impress in Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta’s collective absence, with Javi Martinez and Diego Costa also on the sidelines.

La Roja had won all of their five previous meetings with Macedonia, and a significant victory in Granada would have kept La Roja top of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Dario Velkovski had other ideas, however, as he sprang Spain’s offside trap when meeting a flick-on from a corner, but his point-blank header was parried away by David de Gea.

Another gilt-edged chance went begging for Macedonia shortly after as an unmarked Goran Pandev headed a matter of inches wide from a corner.

Alvaro Morata eventually got the hosts going as the Real Madrid striker first dragged a finish wide, before he was threaded through and had his one-on-one saved by Stole Dimitrievski, a late inclusion due to Igor Aleksovski pulling up in the warm-up.

The goalkeeper was then in no-man’s land, but Silva nonetheless saw his rebounded effort blocked by Mojsov on the line.

Morata was quickly becoming La Roja’s biggest goal threat as attacker was slipped through on goal down the left, but his side-footed finish was once more stopped by Dimitrievski.

Sadly for Macedonia, their chips ran out 10 minutes before half-time, albeit with more than a hint of misfortune, when Velkovski looped a header into his own net after he collided with teammate Stefan Spirovski.

The second half was virtually all Spain, with Dimitrievski making yet another fine stop to get down low to his right and push away Morata’s close-range finish in its opening exchanges.

However, they were dealt a scare when De Gea came off his line to shepherd an incoming ball, which Bartra misread as the defender passed straight back to a Macedonia player, although nothing ultimately came of it.

Thiago then clipped an inch-perfect pass into the path of Silva, who only had to hit the target for 2-0, but he snatched at the shot and the ball dribbled wide. Still, the Manchester City man had a subsequent cross deflected towards the far post for Vitolo to nod home.

On a high from his goal, Vitolo fooled the Macedonian defence with a deft flick that found Silva in the box, but the midfielder took too long to pick his spot and the visitors could clear.

Macedonia suddenly arose from the dead through Ilija Nestorovski, who had a goal disallowed and a penalty appeal waved away. They provided the cue for Enis Bardi to let fly from some way out and De Gea to pull off a superb, reflex save.

Spain proceeded to wrap the result up five minutes from time and inside 60 seconds. Monreal was first up, poking a first-time volley past Dimitrievski, before substitute Aritz Aduriz finished off a sweeping move.

Spain 4-0 FYR Macedonia

Velkovski og 34, Vitolo 63, Monreal 84, Aduriz 85

Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Bartra, Nacho, Monreal; Koke (Isco 72), Busquets, Thiago; Vitolo (Callejon 85), Morata (Aduriz 60), Silva

FYR Macedonia: Dimitrievski; Velkoski, Mojsov, Ristevski; Ristovski, Hasani (Gjorgjev 87), Bardi, Spirovski (Zhuta 60), Alioski; Pandev, Nestorovski (Ibraimi 82)

Referee: Schorgenhofer (AUT)

Tags 2018 World Cup Macedonia Spain