Kyiv, Oct 13 (IANS) Spain, who punched their ticket for the 2016 European Cup finals last week, beat Ukraine 1-0 to assure themselves of the first place in Group C.
Winning nine of 10 matches, Spain garnered 27 points, five ahead of second-place Slovakia, who topped Luxembourg 4-2 in Monday’s other Group C contest to secure their berth in Euro 2016, reports Efe.
It was a day of milestones for Spain, as Cesc Fabregas – making his 100th appearance with the squad – took the field wearing the captain’s armband and international newcomer Mario Gaspar celebrated his debut by scoring in the 22nd minute.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque selected a line-up of mainly substitutes for the visit to Kiev’s Olympic stadium, where Spain hoisted the European Cup in 2012, and his calculations paid off to give Spain its eighth consecutive victory in this year’s group stage.
Fabregas, however, missed a chance to make his 100th international cap truly memorable.
Pulled down in the area a minute after Gaspar’s goal, Cesc saw Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov make a diving stop on his penalty try.
The save boosted Ukraine’s spirits and the home team showed much more initiative on offense in the second half, but they couldn’t solve Spanish keeper David De Gea.
Ukraine, who finished third in Group C, still has a chance to qualify for the finals by winning a playoff against an opponent to be determined.