FC Barcelona’s Jordi Alba and Andrés Iniesta scored the goals in Oviedo on Saturday evening as Spain defeated Slovakia 2-0. The result means that the home side now join their guests on 18 points at the top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group C. It also guarantees the 2008 and 2012 champions at least a place in the playoffs, but with Ukraine beating Belarus 3-1 and just three points behind the top two, there is still some work to be done in order to secure direct passage to the finals in France.
Vicente del Bosque opted to start the game with Alba and Gerard Piqué in his back four, and with Iniesta and Sergio Busquets teaming up with former colleague Cesc Fabregàs in a tremendously effective three-man midfield. The other Barça player in the squad, Marc Bartra, was an unused substitute.
The match got off to the perfect start for ‘La Roja’, with a piece of magic from David Silva after just five minutes. A wonderful left-footed assist was met by Jordi Alba running in from nowhere to head Spain into an early lead.
The home side were in full control of the proceedings, and Alba had come very close to scoring his second header of the night shortly before their lead was extended. On the half hour, Slovak keeper Kozacic brought Diego Costa down in the area and a composed Iniesta stepped up to take, and coolly convert, from the penalty spot.
The visitors looked considerably more dangerous after the break, and Mak really should have scored in the 50th minute. But despite Slovakia’s best efforts, Spain never really looked in danger of losing their lead. They can now prepare for a trip to Skopje to play Macedonia on September 8 (8.45pm CET). At the same time, Slovakia will be hosting Ukraine, and that’s good news for the Spanish because it means that at least one of their two direct rivals will inevitably be dropping points.