Spain easily control Belarus as Isco leads attack


Spain made it three wins from four games in Euro 2016 qualifying with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Belarus at the Estadio Nuevo Colombino in Huelva. Isco's brilliant strike and Sergio Busquets' deflected shot moments later gave Spain a 2-0 half-time lead and the reigning European champions added a third goal through Pedro Rodriguez in the second half. Vicente del Bosque's men, who also struck the woodwork twice in a one-sided encounter, now have nine points in Group C, leaving them three behind leaders Slovakia. Belarus, meanwhile, only have the one point to show for their efforts. A new-look Spain side, who won their last qualifier 4-0 in Luxembourg having previously suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to Slovakia, were quickly on the offensive and really should have taken the lead inside seven minutes. However, Santi Cazorla's superb pass through to Pedro was wasted as the Barcelona man fired a first-time effort wide with only goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov to beat. Pedro, who scored a hat-trick against Belarus during qualifying for this summer's World Cup, really should have done better with that chance, but Spain need not have worried as they took the lead just 11 minutes later through Isco. Careless play by Belarus on the edge of their area allowed Koke to steal possession and he rolled the ball across to Isco, who took a couple of touches before curling an inch-perfect 20-yard shot into the top corner for his first Spain goal on his first start for his country. Zhevnov could only stand and watch that effort from the in-form Real Madrid midfielder fly past him, and he was similarly powerless moments later as Spain made it 2-0. Busquets latched onto the loose ball outside the area after Juanfran Torres' cross had been half-cleared and the Barcelona man's shot crept inside the near post after taking a deflection. Busquets made way at half-time, replaced by Bruno Soriano, but Spain's dominance continued unaltered with Paco Alcacer nearly adding a third in the 54th minute with a header that struck the frame of the goal. It was 3-0 four minutes later, though, with Pedro firing into the roof of the net following a Juanfran cut-back to get his name on the scoresheet against Belarus once again. With the visitors still not seriously troubling Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas — winning his 160th cap — it seemed just a question of how many more goals the hosts would be able to add in the final half-hour. In the end the scoreline remained unchanged, although Pedro came within inches of adding a fourth in the 89th minute with a shot from a tight angle that came back off the far post.