Spain swept aside Finland in Helsinki to move three points clear of France – held to a goalless draw by Georgia – at the top of Group I and close in on a place at the FIFA World Cup.
Vicente del Bosque's men quickly settled into a serene stride and took the lead after 19 minutes courtesy of FC Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba. The visitors were made to work harder for their second though, substitute Álvaro Negredo providing the clinching goal four minutes from time. Spain will take their place at Brazil 2014 if they take a point or more from their next game, against Belarus on 11 October.
Finland made their intentions to frustrate the world and European champions clear from the outset. Their gameplan was undone, though, when Cesc Fàbregas's visionary pass found Alba, who calmly slotted past Niki Mäenpää.
The home team emerged rejuvenated after the interval with Teemu Pukki twice going close. Spain were swift to regain their composure, however, Mäenpää diving full stretch to repel Fàbregas's long-range effort, before Teemu Tainio headed narrowly over at the other end. Any nerves were then salved when forward Álvaro Negredo combined with Manchester City FC team-mate Jesús Navas and finished unerringly beyond Mäenpää.