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WC Qualification Europe
October 16, 2013
• Estadio Carlos Belmonte, Albacete
Referee: F. Meyer
• Attendance: 16133
That's it from me, Harry Slavin. Spain finish top of Group I and are heading for the World Cup. I on the otherhand, am heading for bed. Thanks for joining me this evening and until next time, goodbye!
FULL-TIME: SPAIN 2-0 GEORGIA. A goal in each half is enough to book Spain's tickets for South America next summer. The result rarely looked in doubt, and really it could have been a lot more but Negredo and Mata's telling contributions were all La Roja needed.
90' + 1'
NAVAS!!! They've kept on going to the end and the Manchester City winger peels off the left wing to cut onto his right foot and send an effort fizzing just past the near post. That would have capped things off nicely.
We're about to head into just two minutes of stoppage time in Albacete. In truth, this game finished a long time ago.
Still Spain come forward but they've resorted to shots from distance in these final few minutes. Koke is the latest player to blast the ball over Kvaskhvadze's crossbar.
It hasn't been the most sizzling of performances from La Roja. Indeed, we haven't really seen the side sparkle since they demolished Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final. Maybe a trip to Brazil and a major championships will see them back to their best.
Final substitution for Spain as Iniesta comes off, goalless, but to great applause from the Albacete crowd. Isco is on in his place.
Into the final 10 we go then. The game has really wound down since Mata grabbed Spain's second. A case of mission accomplished and let's save ourselves for the weekend I reckon.
Georgia swing the ball into the box and Casillas is forced to come and clear it. I think that's the closest thing to a save the Real Madrid keeper has come to in the second period.
The tiredness is evident as Ketsbaia makes his second substitution. Khmaladze comes on and he'll replace Grigalashvili for the final 15 minutes.
Moreno fouls Gelashvili inside the Spain half as Georgia make a rare foray forward. They've barely seen the ball tonight and to a man, they all look shattered.
It'll be time for the tabloids to start talking up Spain's chances for the tournament in South America next summer. It hasn't been the most sparkling of campaigns from Del Bosque's men but it's a case of job done. Besides, they can save the fireworks for the main event now.
Spain have just taken their 13th corner of the evening. They have been utterly dominant. Navas tries to connect with Iniesta's cross to the back post but can't quite bring the ball under control.
Iniesta!!! The Barca midfielder is desperate to find the net this evening and he is teed up again on the edge of the area, this time denied by the head of Amisulashvili.
Koke is on for Spain to replace Xavi, as Vicente Del Bosque begins to think about resting some of his big guns now.
You have to feel that with that goal, Spain have sealed there place at the World Cup next year. Any niggling doubt around the stadium in Albacete has been lifted with Mata's prod home. Spain are going to Brazil.
Goal Juan Mata
GOOAAAALLL!!! INSTANT IMPACT FROM MATA!!! Xavi swings in a corner and Pique meets it but the ball doesn't go anywhere, instead dropping at the feet of Mata who stabs home to double the hosts lead.
It is Mata who comes on for Spain and it's Barcelona's Pedro that makes way. Can the Chelsea man create that opening to give Spain the two goal cushion they crave?
The free kick is floated to the back post but the header from Ramos is miles over. It looks as the Del Bosque is about to make his first change with Juan Mata stripping on the sidelines.
Yellow Card Akaki Khubutia
Pedro is scythed down on the edge of the area by Khubutia and that gives the hosts a free kick in a dangerous position. It also gives the Georgia right-back a yellow card.
Iniesta! The midfielder started his youth career with Albacete and would love to score at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte for the home crowd, but he fluffs his lines on this occasion, skewing wide from Juanfran's cut back.
Spain have been looking to pick out Negredo a lot this evening. The central forward role is a position that is up for grabs in the Del Bosque's side at the moment and Negredo could have even more competition for the jersey if Spain are able to sort out the paperwork for Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa.
Iniesta loops the ball over the top for Negredo to chase. Some strong defending from the captain Kashia though fends off the Spanish striker and allows the Georgian defence the chance to clear.
Away we go then. Pique gets stuck in early on with a sliding tackle in midfield. He must have felt starved of the action after that opening period.
The sides are back out for the second half. Just 45 minutes now between Spain and the World Cup in Brazil.
HALF-TIME. SPAIN 1-0 GEORGIA. Del Bosque's side on course then to seal top spot in Group I, but only just. They've been dominant in possession and on shot count, but with only Negredo's close-range effort to show for it they're still vulnerable, as Gelashvili so nearly demonstrated.
We're into the one minute of stoppage time in Albacete added on by referee Florian Mayer.
Just a few minutes left until half-time. Spain will feel they deserve to be in front but in all truth they perhaps be level if it wasn't for Casillas.
Off the post!! Negredo meets the ball at the back stick and gets a good connection on it, but can only direct his effort onto the woodwork. It remains 1-0 for now.
It's all Spain again now Iniesta tries to clip another clever ball over the top of the Georgia defence for Negredo to bring down but the City forward, who has been heavily involved so far, can't quite get his laces to the ball.
Navas gets down the right again and arrows a cross low towards the penalty spot. It's not the most convincing of clearances from Amisulashvili and he ends up knocking it behind for corner as he looks to clear the ball out of the area.
Spain have got back to basics after that little scare and have continued to keep the ball for the last few minutes. Georgia have only netted three times in qualification this campaign. If they do so tonight it would be a real shock.
A little reminder for Spain that there are still two football teams on the field. They got caught completely flat-footed there and Georgia almost hit back immediately.
Chance for Georgia! Yup, you read that right! The visitors catch La Roja on the break and forward Gelashvili is in behind the Spanish defence. Casillas has to be on his toes to beat away the striker's effort and gets a touch of good fortune too as Okriashvili fires over the rebound.
That has woken the crowd up in Albacete. Navas gets down the right but his cross isn't the best and Negredo can't quite reach it in the centre.
GOOAALLL!!! NEGREDO FOR SPAIN!!! The white wall finally crumbles as Iniesta fires in a low cross that Negredo meets at the front post and blasts home via the crossbar. A simple finish and do the floodgates now open?
Still Spain come forward, but still they can't break down the white wall that has formed in front of the Georgian goal.
NEGREDO!!! What an effort from the Manchester City front-man! He takes a touch from Pedro's pass on the edge of the area and tees himself up for a spectacular overhead-kick that Kvaskhvadze has to tip over the bar. Wonderful effort!
A real opening for Navas! Pedro weaves his way down the right once more and cuts the ball back across the face of goal. It's left by Negredo for the onrushing Navas, but he gets his connection all wrong and blasts his effort over the bar.
Negredo looks fine now as he drives a low effort wide of the left-hand upright. Not the best effort but at least he has stopped hobbling.
This won't be a welcome sight for Manchester City fans as Negredo hobbles away from that challenge with the Georgia keeper. He's limping heavily on that left foot. Hopefully that isn't too serious.
Pedro produces a moment of magic to fashion out a chance for the hosts. He turns Lobzhanidze inside out with some mesmerizing footwork before firing a cross-shot into the six-yard box. Kvaskhvadze makes a meal of it in the Georgia goal and Negredo is almost left with the simplest of tap ins, but the keeper redeems himself to block the forward's effort.
I don't think the visitors have managed to get their foot on the ball yet. Even centre forward Gelashvili has spent more time in his own area than in the opposition half so far!
Juanfran and Navas have already seen a good deal of the ball down the right hand-side. Iniesta plays a sumptuous ball over the top for Negredo but the Manchester City man is adjudged to be in an offside position and puts his header wide in any case.
Spain already have 11 white Georgian jerseys sat in front of the goal as they force their first corner of the game. This could be a long night for Ketsbaia's team if they refuse to leave their 18-yard-box.
Beautiful run from Navas as he drifts past three Georgian defenders on the right. He slams the ball across the face of goal and Amisulashvili has to throw himself at it to clear the danger.
Pique and Ramos have started in central defence for La Roja despite sitting out training with the first squad over the weekend. They'll be hoping to be worked a little less tonight than they were by Belarus on Friday evening.
We're off and running at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte!
So Iker Casillas gets the nod in goal for the hosts tonight. Sevilla's Moreno get's his debut too for the Spanish national side. The teams are out and we are about to get underway.
GEORGIA:(4-4-1-1) Kvaskhvadze; Grigalava, Amisulashvili, Khubutia, Lobzhanidze; Kobakhidze, Kankava, Kashia, Ananidze; Okriashvili; Gelashvili.
SPAIN: (4-3-3) Casiilas; Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Moreno; Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi; Pedro, Negredo, Navas.
Speaking of who's starting, we aren't far from kick off so let's get those teams up before we get underway. We'll start with Del Bosque's men.
There are a couple of players to look out for in the Georgia line up. One in particular is the elusive Jano Ananidze. The 21-year-old is currently on a season's long loan at FC Rostov from Spartak Moscow and is the youngest player to ever score in the Russian Premier League. Iker Casillias, who starts for Spain this evening, singled the winger out as Georgia's most influential player ahead of tonight's match.
Having only started playing football in 1990, Georgia joined FIFA and UEFA in 1992. Their list of honours isn't exactly eye-catching - the team have never qualified for a major finals - and only a handful of players to have ever worn the 'Crusaders' shirt are instantly recognisable. Still, they can pose a threat, as Spain almost found out in the reverse fixture in Tblisi, when only a late Roberto Soldado effort secured a narrow victory for the visitors. The Spanish fans will be hoping it's a little less tense this evening.
If you don't know much about Vicente Del Bosque's Spain side, then chances are you've stumbled across the wrong web page. But if you need a touch up on your Georgian knowledge then you've come to the right place. So just who are this lot standing between Spain and their continued quest for world domination?
There is just one match remaining in the European Qualifying zone and still the World Cup holders are yet to book their place at next year's carnival in Brazil. They only need a draw to secure top spot ahead of Didier Deschamps France, and it's Temuri Ketsbaia's Georgia that stand between La Roja and that precious point.
Good evening and a warm welcome to the Group I European World Cup encounter between Spain and Georgia. I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be here to take you through all the action from tonight's match.
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