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2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • Darko Velkoski (34' OG)
  • Vitolo (63')
  • Nacho Monreal (84')
  • Aritz Aduriz (85')

Spain set home record in smashing defeat of Macedonia

Spain's 4-0 win over Macedonia -- their 93rd home victory in a qualifying campaign -- set a new all-time record.

Julen Lopetegui's side eclipsed the mark for all European and World Cup qualifiers set by Russia (including the Soviet Union) with relative ease, even if it did require a couple of late goals to boost the scoreline.

An own goal from Darko Velkovski gave Spain a half-time lead and after Vitolo doubled their advantage just past the hour Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal and Aritz Aduriz scored in the final six minutes.

The inexperienced FK Vardar defender Velkovski quickly learned about the fine margins at this level as he should have given his side an early lead only to put through his own net before half-time to give their hosts the breakthrough.

Macedonia had never beaten Spain in five previous meetings, having conceded 14 goals, so keeping a clean sheet was imperative.

However, the 21-year-old Velkovski, with less than 10 caps to his name, could have made a name for himself in just the 11th minute but planted his far-post header straight at goalkeeper David De Gea.

It was all the warning Spain needed and in the space of 15 minutes Alvaro Morata spurned three chances.

Having screwed his first attempt wide from the edge of the penalty area he was then denied at close range by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski, with David Silva's deflected behind for a corner.

The Real Madrid striker forced another save from Dimitrievski before his goal was finally breached when Velkovski turned Dani Carvajal's cross into his own net in the 34th minute.

Morata's fruitless evening continued after the break with a weak shot on the turn easily saved before Marc Bartra's loose pass almost gifted the visitors an equaliser, the Borussia Dortmund defender recovering to deflect Ezgjan Alioski's shot with De Gea stranded out of position.

The introduction of 35-year-old Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz spelt the end of a frustrating hour for Morata and within three minutes Spain had doubled their lead.

Silva's cross was deflected across the face of goal and Sevilla's Vitolo beat the goalkeeper with a far post header to end any fanciful hopes Macedonia had of sneaking a draw.

Enis Bardhi did force De Gea into one good save at full stretch but the visitors could not keep pace with their opponents and Monreal volleyed home six minutes from time before Aduriz converted Silva's cross seconds later.

The result kept Spain top of Group G, ahead of rivals Italy on goal difference.

WC Qual - UEFA News