Spain 1-0 Ukraine
Álvaro Morata scores his first senior goal for Spain to strengthen their hold on a qualifying place.
Article top media content
• Álvaro Morata's first Spain goal keeps them within three points of Group C leaders Slovakia
• Victory also moves Spain three points ahead of third-placed Ukraine
• Ruslan Rotan outstanding for Ukraine; Jordi Alba goes off injured
• Sergio Ramos heads against the bar ten years to the week after his first Spanish cap
• Next games: Belarus v Spain, Ukraine v Luxembourg (14 June)
Álvaro Morata struck his first Spain goal to gain them three vital UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group C points against Ukraine in Seville.
Spain's lead could not have come at a more valuable time. The match began with the European champions cutting through Ukraine's defence at will – using their full repertoire of one-touch passing and one-twos.
Jordi Alba, David Silva and Morata all had openings within sight of goal but did not profit. Ukraine, for their part, were both patient and able. Whenever they had a dead-ball situation they used it to great effect. Ruslan Rotan's free-kick let Artem Fedetsky volley at will, but he sliced it. Then Rotan himself speared a shot just past Iker Casillas's right-hand post.
So it was with relief the crowd greeted Morata's breakthrough. Andrés Iniesta's switch of play and Koke's superb volleyed pass down the middle was finished by the Juventus man edging the ball over Andriy Pyatov.
For once, just before the interval, Vicente Del Bosque's side showed that they too knew how to work a set piece. Silva's well-flighted ball from the right edge of the box was met by Sergio Ramos whose header smacked the face of the bar.
Throughout the second half La Roja regretted it. Rotan continued to threaten and three times in the space of 15 minutes he drew exceptional saves from Spain's captain. But the defending champions held on to strengthen their grip on a qualifying place, though they lost Alba to injury with 12 minutes left.