Debut goal from Mario gives Spain 9th Euro qualifying win
(Xinhuanet file photo)
MADRID, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- ended their campaign to qualify for the 2016 European Championships with a 1-0 win in Ukraine to assure they finish top of their qualifying group with 9 wins from 10 games.
With qualification already assured Spain coach Vicente del Bosque made wholesale changes to the side which had beaten Luxembourg on Friday with Cesc Fabrigas, who was making his 100th appearance for his country, the only player to start the two games.
The Ukraine needed to better the result of Slovakia's result in Luxembourg in order to qualify and started brightly, with Ruslan Rotan drawing a fine save from David del Gea following good work down the left.
It was an expensive miss as Mario Gaspar capped his debut with a goal shortly afterwards as he headed home following a good interchange between Nolito and Tiago Alcantara, who crossed for the right back to score.
Fabrigas had the perfect chance to celebrate his centenary with a goal after he was fouled in the Ukraine area just two minutes later, but the Chelsea midfielder took his spot kick with little confidence and it was saved by Andriy Pyatov in the Ukraine goal.
Spain were looking the better side, but De Gea was again called on as he saved from Artem Kravets and Pyatov once again as the half drew on.
Mikel San Jose saw a goal ruled out 10 minutes into the second half after a magnificent move was spoiled by a foul by Nacho Fernandez, although De Gea was becoming Spain's player of the night as he showed with another save from Andrey Yarmolenko, who had earlier hit the outside of the post.
He would later also deny Konoplanka as Ukraine looked to salvage some pride from the game, although the impressive Tiago Alvantara had the chance to double Spain's lead in the closing seconds.