Vicente Del Bosque backs Iker Casillas, Diego Costa after Spain's loss
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque attempted to defend his players after the reigning European champions were shocked 2-1 in Slovakia in Thursday's Euro 2016 qualifier.
The defeat was the first for Spain in European or World Cup qualifying in eight years, when they lost 2-0 to Sweden in October 2006 in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
La Roja had won each of their last 14 European qualifying games, but were deservedly beaten in Zilina as the previously all conquering side put in yet another very disappointing performance.
Midfielder Juraj Kucka's early free kick put Slovakia ahead before half time, and although substitute Paco Alcacer equalised late on, there was still time for the home side's replacement Miroslav Stoch to give Slovakia a famous victory.
After Spain had 20 shots to their opponents five, winning 19 corners to three, but still came away with nothing, the veteran coach told reporters that the unforeseen result was more due to good play from Slovakia than a poor effort by his own players.
"We did not expect this," Del Bosque said. "It is our first defeat in 28 qualifying games. It is more good by them than bad by us. They made it difficult for us. We had patience to move the ball around, but we were not accurate in front of goal and their keeper played well. Nobody likes to lose, but nobody can say we lacked effort or attitude today. We lost due to circumstances of football. The counter-attack for the second goal was very good. We have to say they played some good football."
Del Bosque also protected long-serving captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was again at fault as he completely misread a swerving 25 yard free kick from Genoa midfielder Kucka.
"Casillas had saved a good chance from Slovakia in the previous move," he said. "I could not see clearly from the bench, but the ball seemed to move strangely in the air and Iker was deceived."
After Del Bosque made three attacking substitutions at 1-0 down, and substitute Alcacer scored an excellent equaliser, taking down a Jordi Alba cross with one touch and rifling the ball to the net. However Spain were then badly caught out with midfielders Santi Cazorla and Koke in the full-back positions as the excellent throughout Marek Hamsik crossed for former Chelsea youth teamer Stoch to head the late winner.
"We lacked depth in our attacks, looked for that in our changes, to open up the pitch," Del Bosque explained. "We made changes to freshen things up. They had practically given up on attacking. We put in Cazorla for his quality around the box. They were all changes looking for more attacking threat."
It was another frustrating international for Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who has nine goals in his first seven Premier League games, but is still yet to score in his first six caps for adopted country Spain.
"Costa is very enthusiastic, putting in the effort," Del Bosque said. "As well as his performance we are happy with his behaviour and his commitment."
Spain move on to Sunday's game in Luxembourg looking for some positives, after disaster at the summer's World Cup was followed by a friendly defeat to France, before the 5-1 win over Macedonia in their first Euro 2016 qualifier.
"There are just two games played, nothing is clear yet," Del Bosque said. "Slovakia have six points, and top the classification, but there are games left to turn that around. The first game we won easily with five goals. We deserved a draw today at least I believe. I do not believe we are now in a negative dynamic."