Lopetegui hails Spain's patience after slender win

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La Roja were not at their fluent best against Israel and had to rely on a moment of brilliance from Asier Illarramendi to secure the win

Julen Lopetegui was impressed by Spain's patience as they battled past a resolute Israel 1-0 at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on Monday.

La Roja were held at bay for most of the game and reduced to long-range shots as they struggled to break down a resolute backline.

Spain 7/1 to win 2018 World Cup

But a moment of magic from Asier Illarramendi broke the deadlock as the Real Sociedad midfielder opened his international account in the 76th minute with a fine 25-yard strike on the half-volley.

It was a much-changed Spain side and Lopetegui admitted his side took a while to work out the best way to break down the determined hosts.

"We knew it was going to be difficult because we were up against a hyper-motivated team," he said after his men finished Group G unbeaten, having already guaranteed a spot at Russia 2018.

"They played well and in the first half we did not know how to attack their defense.

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"When you do not score the first goal soon it sometimes complicates everything, but in the end we have achieved the three points.

"We must congratulate the players for this brilliant qualification."

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