Spain crush Macedonia in fine style


Spain put their World Cup woe behind them after thumping Macedonia 5-1 in their Euro 2015 Group C qualifying match on Monday night. Spain, who exited the summer tournament in Brazil as defending champions at the group stage, raced to an early two-goal lead thanks to Sergio Ramos' 16th-minute penalty and Paco Alcacer's goal moments later. However, Macedonia clawed their way back when Juanfran fouled Aleksandar Trajkovski to concede a penalty at the other end, which Agim Ibraimi duly slotted to the left of Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas just before the half hour mark. Sergio Busquets added the hosts' third just before the break after Spain squandered several more chances with David Silva adding the fourth in the 50th minute before Pedro scored in stoppage time to add further gloss. Ramos opened the scoring after the first quarter of an hour after Daniel Mojsov brought down SIlva in the box. The Real Madrid defender stepped up and casually chipped it over the keeper. Soon after Spain were two goals to the good thanks to Alcacer, who slid in Juanfran's ball from close range. Macedonia hit back in the 28th minute from the penalty spot when Ibraimi got the better of Casillas after Juanfran went from hero to villain and brought down Trajkovski. After conceding, Spain almost regained a two-goal advantage soon after but for the efforts of Macedonia stopper Tomislav Pacovski who got a left hand to the surging run from right to left of Pedro. Koke had a rasping strike at goal just before half-time but his shot was cut out by Daniel Mojsov. The ball struck the Macedonia defender in the face and he left the field on a stretcher before undergoing tests at the side of the pitch before retruning. Pacovski made another vital block just before the break to deny Silva's run through the middle of the box before Spain squandered another real chance when Alcacer was denied in a goalmouth scramble. A goal had looked to have been coming and Spain finally scored again in first-half stoppage time when Macedonia failed to clear their lines and Busquets' strike took a big deflection on its way into the net. Spain picked up where they left off after the break with Silva firing in from the left side of the box but soon after Vicente del Bosque's side took their foot off the gas with the game all wrapped up. The final period was played out at a much slower tempo, despite the Spain coach bringing on some fresh legs in the form of Isco, Marc Bartra and El Haddadi Munir for Alcacer, Ramos and Koke respectively. Penalty scorer Ibraimi then tested Casillas for the second time of the night, forcing a fingertip save from the Spain keeper in the 79th minute as the visitors did their best to try and salvage something from the match. It was Spain, though, who found the net again, this time a chip from the boot of Pedro after a swift counter-attack in stoppage time, as they wrapped up a comfortable victory.