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 far too powerful for their opponents in their first competitive fixture since returning from South America.
Vicente del Bosqueâ€™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, the centre-back Sergio Ramos, got them up and running against Macedonia with a cool penalty after 16 minutes.
Spain doubled their lead a minute later when Paco AlcÃ¡cer, on his home ground, 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 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 by Slovakia, RÃ³bert Mak scoring the winner in the 17th minute.
There was a surprise in Luxembourg too as Belarus were held to a 1-1 draw. Lars Krogh Gerson put the hosts ahead three minutes before the break and they led until the 78th minute when Stanislav Dragun equalised.
In Englandâ€™s Group E Estonia left it late to beat 10-man Slovenia, the substitute Ats Purje scoring the only goal four minutes from time after Dalibor Stevanovic was sent off in the 80th minute.
In the same group Lithuania won 2-0 in San Marino thanks to goals from Deivydas Matulevicius and Arvydas Novikovas.
Russia, who also failed to live up to expectations in Brazil, set the early pace in Group G with a 4-0 win at home to Liechtenstein, although they were given a helping hand by their opponents.
The visitors scored two own-goals to put Russia 2-0 in front, Martin BÃ¼chel putting through his own net after four minutes and Franz Burgmeier following suit five minutes after the break. A Dmitri Kombarov penalty five minutes later made it three before Artem Dzyuba completed the scoring.
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 with a seventh-minute penalty and Erkan Zengin equalising five minutes later. – The Guardian