Illarra screamer slays Israel

Asier Illarramendi's rocket salvaged Spain a 1-0 win against Israel in their final 2018 World Cup qualifier on Monday.

See how the action unfolded with Football Espana's liveblog!

Spain were far from their fluent best in Jerusalem, but their experimental XI ultimately did the job to end a successful qualifying campaign on a positive note.

With their place at the 2018 World Cup secured, La Roja changed nine from their 3-0 win against Albania last week as Pepe Reina, Nacho Monreal, Nacho Fernandez, Cesar Azpilicueta, Illarramendi, Marco Asensio, Pedro Rodriguez and Aritz Aduriz all came in.

Las Palmas attacker Jonathan Viera also made his debut for Spain, playing in the hole behind Aduriz, but Gerard Pique and David Silva were suspended.

Victory over Israel would’ve gone some way towards ensuring they went into the group-stage draw on December 1 as top seeds.

The visitors dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes but sorely missed the guile of Andres Iniesta and David Silva in the final third.

Nonetheless, Pedro Rodriguez’s beautifully-clipped cross-shot was punched away by Israel goalkeeper Ariel Harush, before Viera fired a shot just over.

Harush was then called back into action as he caught Aritz Aduriz’s powerful header from close range and tipped over Sergio Ramos’ piledriver from 30 yards out.

However, Pedro should’ve scored when he was threaded through with only Harush to beat, only for the winger’s side-footed finish to roll to deflect off the custodian.

The second half saw Ramos make way for Iago Aspas as Spain switched to a 3-4-1-2 formation, but a lack of creativity continued to hinder them.

A failed Aduriz flick was all La Roja could muster, until a corner dropped to Illarramendi, who blasted home an unstoppable effort on the half-volley.

Asensio appeared to tap in for 2-0 towards the end of the game, but the Madrid ace was offside when he met substitute Jose Callejon’s cutback in the six-yard box.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Illarramendi 76

Israel: Harush; Keltjens, Tibi, Ben Haim, Davidzada; Natcho, Cohen, Kabha (Bitton 67); Atar (Benayoun 75), Hemed, Melikson (Ben Chaim 55)

Spain: Reina; Azpilicueta, Nacho, Ramos (Aspas 46), Monreal; Illarramendi, Busquets; Asensio, Viera, Pedro (Callejon 76); Aduriz (Isco 66)

Referee: Thomson (SCO)

Tags 2018 World Cup Israel Spain
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