Belfast Telegraph

Slick Spain click back into gear after World Cup shame

By Staff Reporter

Spain took the first steps on the road to recovery from their World Cup humiliation with a thumping 5-1 win over Macedonia in Valencia.

The 2010 world champions were dethroned in ignominious fashion in Brazil, crashing out in the group stage, but were far too powerful for their opponents in their first competitive fixture since returning from South America.

Vicente del Bosque's side were on the receiving end of a 5-1 scoreline against Holland in their opening World Cup game and one of the villains that night, centre-back Sergio Ramos, got them up and running against Macedonia with a penalty after 16 minutes.

Spain doubled their lead just a minute later when Paco Alcacer marked his first competitive game for his country with a goal.

Agim Ibraimi pulled one back from the spot for the visitors shortly before the half-hour mark, but thoughts of an upset were quickly dashed.

Sergio Busquets added a third on the stroke of half-time and second-half goals from David Silva and Pedro wrapped up the win.

Elsewhere in Group C, Ukraine suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Slovakia, Robert Mak with the winner.

There was a surprise in Luxembourg as well as the hosts held Belarus to a 1-1 draw. Lars Krogh Gerson put them ahead three minutes before the break and they led until the 78th minute when Stanislav Dragun equalised.

Estonia left it late to beat 10-man Slovenia, Ats Purje with the winner four minutes from time after Dalibor Stevanovic had been sent off in the 80th minute.

In the same pool Lithuania won 2-0 in San Marino thanks to goals from Deividas Matulevicius and Arvydas Novikovas.

Russia set the early pace in Group G following a 4-0 win at home to Liechtenstein.

Montenegro also got off to a winning start, seeing off Moldova 2-0 thanks to goals from Mirko Vucinic and Zarko Tomasevic.

Austria and Sweden drew 1-1, David Alaba putting the Austrians ahead and Erkan Zengin equalising five minutes later.

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