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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

Santiago Bernabeu (ATT 21,000) 11th October 2013 - Kick off 21:00 Ref: B Nijhuis

Spain Spain vs Belarus Belarus

Spain 2

Xavi (61)
A Negredo (78)

ft

Belarus 1

S Kornilenko (89)

World Cup qualifier: Spain on verge of qualification after 2-1 win over Belarus

Last Updated: 11/10/13 11:51pm

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Alvaro Negredo: Celebrates after his goal

Alvaro Negredo: Celebrates after his goal

Second half goals from Xavi and Alvaro Negredo gave Spain a hard-fought but deserved 2-1 victory at home to Belarus in Group I, which leaves them on the verge of qualification for the World Cup finals.

Vicente del Bosque's holders had to endure a frustrating 60 minutes against Georgi Kondratiev's side, who are bottom of Group I, until Xavi broke the deadlock with a shot from the edge of the area, and Negredo put Spanish minds at ease with a headed goal on 77 minutes.

Sergei Kornilenko pulled a surprise goal back for the visitors in the 89th minute but Spain rode out the final minutes of the game to claim the three points in Mallorca.

The world and European champions moved three points clear of France at the top of the group thanks to the result and now just need a point from their final qualifier, at home to Georgia on Tuesday, to be guaranteed a spot in Brazil next summer.

There were three surprises in Del Bosque's starting line-up. Victor Valdes was picked ahead of captain Iker Casillas in goal, while Swansea forward Michu made his debut for Spain, and Andres Iniesta was left on the bench, with David Silva preferred.

It was the Manchester City midfielder who had Spain's only shot on target in the first half, hitting a powerful effort on goal from the edge of the area 10 minutes before the break, which goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor was unable to hold onto, but the danger was quickly cleared.

Silva had headed wide of goal earlier on, while Michu had two chances to open his account for his country, miscontrolling the ball when approaching goal with the first opportunity, and then failing to get enough power on a header for the second.

The 27-year-old did not enjoy the best of debuts, and was replaced by Negredo after 56 minutes.

Belarus' plan to sit back and deny their opponents space in the final third worked for the first half, although they created scant chances.

However, they thought they could have had a penalty when Gerard Pique appeared to block a cross into the box with his arm just before the half-time whistle went.

Del Bosque made an attacking substitution at the start of the second half, replacing Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal with Iniesta.

Despite having an extra man in midfield as the result of the change, the hosts were still unable to penetrate the visitors' back line, and it took some quick thinking from Xavi to finally break the deadlock.

The Barcelona midfielder received the ball on the edge of the box after Pique had sent the ball back out from the byline, and took an early shot at goal, which flew past the unsighted Gutor and into the back of the net.

It was not the prettiest of goals but it gave a huge sense of relief to Del Bosque's side, who were growing frustrated at their inability to break down their opponents.

The goal did not exactly open the floodgates, but the hosts were able to kill the game off with 12 minutes remaining.

Pedro played Sergio Ramos in down the right hand side with a lovely backheel and the Real Madrid defender recalled his days as a full-back by delivering a quality ball to the near post which Negredo dived to meet and head in from close range.

Belarus got an unexpected goal back with just a minute to go. Sergey Krivets saw a huge gap in the defence after winning the ball back from Koke and played in Kornilenko, who shot first time past Valdes into the bottom corner.

Spain did not panic in the three minutes of stoppage time though, retaining the ball comfortably to see out the victory.

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Matches

  • FIFA World Cup European Qualifying

    Fri 11th Oct - Group B
    Fri 11th Oct - Group G
    • Lithuania
      2 - 0
      Latvia
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    • Bos&Herz
      4 - 1
      Liechtenstein
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    • Greece
      1 - 0
      Slovakia
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    Fri 11th Oct - Group A
    Fri 11th Oct - Group F
    Fri 11th Oct - Group H
    Fri 11th Oct - Group C
    Fri 11th Oct - Group E
    Fri 11th Oct - Group D
    Fri 11th Oct - Group I

Tables

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Belgium 10 26
2 Croatia 10 17
3 Serbia 10 14
4 Scotland 10 11
5 Wales 10 10
6 Macedonia 10 7

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Italy 10 22
2 Denmark 10 16
3 Czech Republic 10 15
4 Bulgaria 10 13
5 Armenia 10 13
6 Malta 10 3

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 10 28
2 Sweden 10 20
3 Austria 10 17
4 Republic of Ireland 10 14
5 Kazakhstan 10 5
6 Faroe Islands 10 1

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Netherlands 10 28
2 Romania 10 19
3 Hungary 10 17
4 Turkey 10 16
5 Estonia 10 7
6 Andorra 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Switzerland 10 24
2 Iceland 10 17
3 Slovenia 10 15
4 Norway 10 12
5 Albania 10 11
6 Cyprus 10 5

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Russia 10 22
2 Portugal 10 21
3 Israel 10 14
4 Azerbaijan 10 9
5 Northern Ireland 10 7
6 Luxembourg 10 6

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 25
2 Greece 10 25
3 Slovakia 10 13
4 Lithuania 10 11
5 Latvia 10 8
6 Liechtenstein 10 2

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 10 22
2 Ukraine 10 21
3 Montenegro 10 15
4 Poland 10 13
5 Moldova 10 11
6 San Marino 10 0

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 8 20
2 France 8 17
3 Finland 8 9
4 Georgia 8 5
5 Belarus 8 4