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Euro 2016 Qualifiers: Spain Back In Groove With Easy Win Over Macedonia

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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 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, 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 Alcácer, 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, Róbert 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 England’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 Büchel 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

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