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Spain 4-0 Macedonia: Monreal scores first international goal in comfortable win

Nacho Monreal scored his first international goal as Spain maintained their place at the top of UEFA Group G with an easy 4-0 victory over Macedonia.

A 1-1 draw with Italy represented La Roja’s only slip-up going into Saturday’s contest in Granada and, despite a spirited effort from Macedonia, an upset rarely looked on the cards.

Spain had nearly 85 per cent of possession in the first half, but their only goal in the opening 45 minutes came when Darko Velkoski headed into his own net.

The game was then effectively put beyond Macedonia’s reach just after the hour mark through Sevilla forward Vitolo, who turned home from point-blank range.

Macedonia were not deterred after going two down, but the hosts piled misery on the Balkan team late on through late goals from Monreal and Aritz Aduriz.

A sterner test of Spain’s credentials will come on Tuesday when they play England – also unbeaten in qualification for the 2018 finals in Russia – at Wembley, with their next qualifier not taking place until March against Israel.

Macedonia were denied a draw with Italy by a last-gasp Ciro Immobile goal in their previous qualifier and made a bright start to proceedings in Granada, Velkoski heading straight at David de Gea from point-blank range.

Alvaro Morata then carved some space for himself in the box at the other end, but could only drag his shot off target.

Goran Pandev headed narrowly wide of the left-hand post as Macedonia continued to cause Spain problems, but Stole Dimitrievski was the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Dimitrievski denied Morata with one-on-one saves twice in the space of four minutes, although he could do little to prevent his team-mate heading Spain into the lead.

Dani Carvajal’s cross from the right looked to be an innocuous one, only for Velkoski to inexplicably steer it beyond Dimitrievski 11 minutes before half-time.

The floodgates threatened to open early in the second half as Spain continued to get forward in numbers, David Silva drifting an effort wide after good work from Vitolo.

And that pair combined again as Spain did double their lead in the 63rd minute, Vitolo nodding in the simplest of headers from Silva’s deflected pull back at the end of a well-crafted attacking move.

Macedonia refused to buckle, though, and Enis Bardhi drew a fine diving save from De Gea with a vicious long-range drive.

But they could not muster a consolation and Spain finished with a flourish, Monreal meeting Carvajal’s looping delivery from the right with a composed first-time finish before Silva teed up Aduriz to slot home a fourth 65 seconds later and make the scoreline ever more flattering.

Sat 12 Nov, 2016
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