Skopje (Macedonia), Sep 9 (IANS) Defending champion Spain is one step closer to clinching a spot in the 2016 European Cup finals after defeating Macedonia 1-0 here.
The Spaniards now lead Group C with 21 points from eight matches and can assure themselves of winning the group with a victory against Luxembourg on October 9, reports Efe.
Macedonia, the last place team in Group C, followed a strategy aimed at denying Spain the space and time to work their customary offensive magic on Tuesday.
The match’s only goal came in the eighth minute, when Macedonia goalkeeper Tome Pacovski missed a cross from Juan Mata – substituting for Pedro – that careened off the post onto the keeper’s head and then into the net.
Pacovksi nearly gave up a second own goal near the end of the first half, misplaying a shot by Dani Carvajal, but was saved by the crossbar.
Macedonia mounted a brief offensive surge at the start of the second half, only to see Spain quickly reassert control.
Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, playing his first competitive match since the penultimate contest of the 2014-2015 Premier League season, faced no serious threats.
The indefatigable Diego Costa led rush after rush, but his combative streak was on display in a rough tackle as he picked up a yellow card that will keep him out of the match against Luxembourg.