Macedonia 2 - 3 Spain
13 August 2009 @ 12:55
Three goals in the space of five minutes ensured Spain emerged victorious in Skopje but Macedonia did not make it easy for the European champions.
The home side raced into an early lead after eight minutes when Lazio striker Goran Pandev beat the offside trap, latched onto Ilco Naumoski's clever through ball before skipping passed the advancing Reina to put Macedonia in front much to the delight of the home support.
Despite the Spaniards enjoying the lions share of possession Macedonia always looked threatening on the break and the lively Pandev put them two up just after the half hour mark when he eased passed Carlos Puyol before angling a low shot past Reina in the Spanish goal.
Vicente del Bosque made three changes at half time as the visitors looked to overturn a surprise two goal half time deficit with Albert Riera replacing David Villa while Xabi Alonso and Cazorla made way for Sergi Busquets and Cesc Fabregas.
Spain showed their class as the half developed with three quick fire strikes in the space of five minutes overturning the home side’s advantage, two of del Bosque’s substitutions having a major hand in the turn around.
First, Torres evaded the Macedonia rearguard to flick a neat header home from around twelve yards after Xavi floated a terrific cross from the left wing.
Moments later, substitute Fabregas crashed a shot against the upright and center half Gerard Pique guided the rebound to the net to put the visitors level.
The visitors took the lead straight from the resulting kick-off when Riera surged forward before hammering the ball home to give Spain the lead.
Spain settled into the task after this and dominated proceedings without really creating any major opportunities. The home side, despite a brave effort, lost the momentum after the break and rarely threatened but could have leveled five minutes from time when Traveski’s free kick rattled the bar.
A hard fought victory for Spain who need only to secure one point in their remaining qualifiers against Estonia and Belgium to book their place in South Africa next year. The home side will take heart from their display as they look to secure second place ahead of Scotland with group leaders Netherlands already qualified for the World Cup.