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Scintillating Spain avenge Slovakia defeat

Spain 2-0 Slovakia
Jordi Alba and Andrés Iniesta scored in the first half as La Roja settled an old score to take top spot in Group C on head-to-head record.

Highlights: Spain 2-0 Slovakia
  • Jordi Alba's sixth La Roja goal sets Spain on their way to Group C leadership
  • Iker Casillas marks 100th appearance as captain with two fine saves
  • Slovakia concede twice in a match for the first time in two years
  • Diego Costa's goal drought for Spain continues but he wins penalty for his side's second
  • Next games: FYR Macedonia v Spain, Slovakia v Ukraine (8 September)

Spain surged to the top of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group C with a convincing 2-0 win over previous leaders Slovakia, Jordi Alba and Andrés Iniesta scoring on a sparkling night of football in Oviedo.

From the outset, the European champions looked confident, quick and prepared to play a high-risk, high-pressing game. They nearly paid the price for such a daring, attacking philosophy when Sergio Ramos stumbled on the ball and allowed Robert Mák the chance to sprint towards Iker Casillas' goal. Slovakia's liveliest player shot wide, though, and within moments regretted his miss still more as David Silva – terrific throughout – clipped a 20-metre chip right into the path of Jordi Alba and the full-back headed his sixth international goal.

Spain profited from a strategy of pushing four men into the strike line whenever they had the ball in Slovakia's – and backing those up with three midfielders close behind.

Jordi Alba wheels away after putting Spain in front
Jordi Alba wheels away after putting Spain in front©Getty Images

Opportunities came and went but it was a counterattacking pass from Cesc Fàbregas to his Chelsea team-mate Diego Costa that opened up the head-to-head lead at the top of Group C. Costa dashed through and was clipped by Matúš Kozáčik and Iniesta was ice-cold in dragging his penalty to the goalkeeper's right for 2-0.

Casillas was not totally without work. Saves either side of half-time from Marek Hamšik and substitute Michal Ďuriš kept the occasion of his 100th cap as captain special. Before the end Silva, twice, and Fàbregas both passed up gilt-edged chances to round off a good performance with the third goal, and Sergio Busquets raked another effort wide from distance.