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WC Qualification Europe
October 11, 2013
• Iberostar Estadi, Palma de Mallorca
Referee: B. Nijhuis
• Attendance: 22900
S. Kornilenko 89'
That's it from me, bye for now folks.
So Spain get the points, eventually, that sees them remain top of their group. All they need is a draw against Georgia in their final group game to guarantee top spot. Belarus will finish bottom of the group.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Dmitri Verkhovtsov
90' + 3'
Xavi whips in the free kick, Belarus head out but there's not enough time to get the ball back down to the other end! Full time!
90' + 2'
Negredo brought down cynically by Verkhovtsov on the right flank. A silly move from the defender, not for the yellow card he earned, but because it allows Spain, and Negredo to milk the clock.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Stanislav Dragun
Three minute of added time to go, and Spain find themselves defending here. Can Belarus pull off the impossible?
Goal Sergey Kornilenko
A solid goal out of nowhere from the visitors, as Krivets slips a ball through to Kornilenko, who beats Busquets for pace and hammers a low finish past Valdes!
BELARUS SCORE ?!?!?!?
A somewhat rare sight as Spain break on the counter. Iniesta nearly bends a neat ball into Pedro, who sprints through centrally, but Gutor is on it.
Ramos continues to motor forward, and this time, picks the ball up centrally to have a go at goal. It's not a bad effort from the Real Madrid man, flashing the wrong side of the post.
Kislyak wriggles into some space with his first touch, but, spotting a gap in the far corner, generates far too little on his shot to trouble Valdes.
Tigorev with a first Belarus chance in ages, taking aim at Valdes' goal from a long way out. It was always a speculative effort though, and it sails over harmlessly.
Hard to take anything away from Spain. Not their most inventive game by any stretch, but they kept at it, and got their reward, with a two goal cushion to sit on. Belarus, as dogged as they have been defensively, have been absolutely putrid in attack, and deserve little from this one.
Assist Sergio Ramos
La Roja wrap it up in efficient fashion. Iniesta with the feed down the wing, Ramos with the cross, and Negredo meets it with a diving header from inside the six-yard area. Game over.
NEGREDO MAKES IT 2-0!
Still no sign of any attacking intent from Belarus. You can literally count the amount of times they've had the ball out of their own half after the break on one hand. Meanwhile, Del Bosque ponders another change on the sidelines.
Xavi manages to slip in Pedro, but the winger is just a step too slow behind Gutor, who races off his line to smother. It continues to be all Spain.
Just under 20 minutes remaining here, and still no sign of a further Spain breakthrough. They've kept a hold of the ball diligently, but Belarus continue to hold firm. Perhaps Xavi's goal will do it?
Kalachev needs treatment for a freak injury where he seemed to kick himself in the shin. Spain put it out of play, and the Belarus wide man is soon back on his feet. The visitors sportingly give the ball back to la Roja.
Play has slowed down once again, as Del Bosque watches grimly from the sidelines. He won't be happy until Spain have at least another goal here.
Yellow Card Timofey Kalachev
Spain are full steam ahead for Brazil 2014 as things stand. Should this score hold, then they need only one point from their final group game against Georgia to guarantee top spot.
Will that open things up now? Spain have the wind in their sails, the Iberostar has waken up, and Belarus are simply offering nothing on the pitch.
Pique takes a high ball on his shoulder in the box, playing it right back into the mixer. Filipenko cannot get enough distance on his header, and the ball drops perfectly for Xavi, who strikes it powerfully and cleanly into the back of the net from 18 yards! Gutor no chance!
Fabregas spots Pedro making a darting run right down the middle, and stabs a ball through the heart of the defence to pick him out, but there's a bit too much on it, and Gutor gets there first.
All 11 Belarus players camped well inside their own half, closer to the penalty box than to the centre circle. Spain keep probing and picking away at them. You get the feeling that one goal, if it is to come, will definitely do it.
Andres Iniesta skips brilliantly inside a challenge and plays into Michu, who fails to control the ball and is called for offside anyway. And that may be the end of his debut, as Alvaro Negredo is primed on the sidelines.
An excellent one-two-three between Pedro, Silva and Fabregas sees the former Arsenal skipper free himself for the cross, but the linesman's flag for offside halts his endeavors.
Yellow Card Maksim Bordachov
David Silva with a nifty ball into Cesc Fabregas, whose first touch surprisingly lets him down, allowing Belarus to clear.
Xavi with a deep, deep corner, and Michu is on it at the far post. He attempts an incredible hooked volley, but unsurprisingly fails to make a perfect connection on the ball, and sends it into orbit.
Spain pick up where they left off, pinging the ball around with impunity, but again, Belarus are trying their hardest to shut down any available gaps.
Bordachev barges into Pedro, and sends the Barca man flying right into a poor cameraman on the sidelines. It seems like Pedro has come off worse for wear, but there is no reprimand for Bordachev.
Monreal has departed at the break, and in his place comes Iniesta. Spain switching to three at the back it seems.
Andrés Iniesta Luján
Here we go again folks.
Silva and Pedro have probably been the best of a tepid bunch for Spain, but Pique has looked inexplicably suspect against a few rudimentary Belarus attacks. Michu, on his debut, has been rather anonymous. A few morsels for thought for Del Bosque at the break. Join us for the restart in a bit.
The home side have monopolized possession, but have found chances hard to come by. The visitors have barely had a kick, but are defending resolutely, and are looking a decent threat from set-pieces. So, a typical Spain international then.
No stoppage time to speak of as the referee signals for half-time.
Pique struggling once again to clear a basic cross, and, already sitting at a yellow card, is perhaps lucky not to be penalized for a tug on Kalachev.
So will Del Bosque shuffle his pack at the break? He certainly has his pick of talent to choose from, with Isco, Navas, Mata, Koke and Negredo all on the bench and all able to change a game in the attacking third.
This half rather trickling out as Spain seem bereft of ideas in attack. To be quite honest, this game has struggled to get off the ground, and Belarus will doubtless be the happier side so far.
The set piece is headed away with little fuss by Verkhovtsov at the near post, but Spain quickly have it back, and reset the attack.
David Silva goes down rather easily on the edge of the area under a soft challenge from Bordachev. Free kick to come, but thankfully the referee has the sense to keep his cards in his pocket.
The ball flashes up at the top of the box, and Pedro takes the invitation to lash a stinging effort towards goal, but it goes wide as Spain miss the target again.
Better from Monreal, who overlaps with his typical enthusiasm, but this time, gets an accurate ball in from the flanks, which Michu meets, but heads the wrong side of the post!
A hint of trouble for la Roja, who see the resulting set piece whipped into the heart of the area, where a Belarus head flicks it back across the box. Pedro eventually hacks clear at the far post.
Yellow Card Piqué
Pique and Rodionov square off for the second time. The Belarus man has the step, and Pique makes a clumsy attempt to get rid of the ball, and commits a needless foul. Free kick, and a yellow card.
Fabregas with an excellent through ball to pick out Monreal in the penalty area, but the Arsenal man cannot drill his cross past the first man. That deserved better.
La Roja continue to dominate the ball, but Belarus are getting better and better at the back. Gaps that were once there are slowly creeping shut.
Funny how the yellow 'V' on Spain's jersey looks like a winner's medal around their necks. Coincidence? Or cheeky design?
MICHU REPORT: Not much of note from the Swansea man on his Spain debut, who has barely touched the ball so far. In truth, target men have rarely fared well in recent la Roja incarnations.
A quality link-up sequence from Belarus on the right sees Tigorev tee up Kalachev in space on the overlap, but his final ball is neither a cross nor a shot, and goes out for a throw at the opposite touchline. That could have been something more than it was.
Spain have seen 83 per cent of the ball in the opening 20 minutes. Not the most shocking stat, but most of it has come to naught, as Belarus have defended reasonably well so far.
Xavi, with a move seen so many times at Camp Nou tries to pick out Pedro with a diagonal pass, but the ball skips ahead of the forward on the moist turf, and goes out of play.
Silva is really running the show here for la Roja. The Manchester City maestro has been spotted all over the opposition half, and has probably managed a passing combination with every Spain player on the pitch at this point.
The cross comes in from Arbeloa on the right and its Silva, who released the fullback initially, with the header, but it is well wide in the end. Nearly a carbon copy of his opening goal in the Euro 2012 final against Italy.
Silva does well to wriggle into room centrally, and with one slipped pass, released Michu on goal! However, before the striker can take a swing at it, Filipenko sticks a boot out the clear the ball away from danger.
Dangerous free kick for Spain right at the edge of the box as Pedro, running at pace again, is sent flying by a Belarus defender. Martynovich gets his name taken, but Xavi cannot beat the wall with the resulting set piece.
Yellow Card Aleksandr Martynovich
Valdes with a rare touch, quickly recycling a backpass from Ramos. The keeper seems set to depart Camp Nou in the summer, after over a decade of trophy-laden success. Whispers are that Marc Andre ter Stegen will take his place between the posts for the 2014-15 season.
It is clear that Del Bosque has set up his side to take full advantage of Michu in the middle. With a legitimate target to aim for in the box, the likes of Pedro and Monreal have already picked out a few balls from the left flank.
Pedro letting the good times roll with a superb run down the left, leaving three defenders in his dust. He spots Michu lurking at the far post, but Gutor just palms the ball out of the reach of the Swansea debutant.
A rare moment for the visiting fans to cheer as Dragun wins a foot race with Pique on the right. I know, hardly the most difficult task, but the Belarus midfielder cannot sort his feet out as the Barca defender wins the ball back easily.
As expected, Spain bossing it so far. Belarus have not had a touch since kickoff, but are keeping it compact at the back, also as expected. A one-sided war of attrition, as it usually is with la Roja these days.
Interesting to see how Spain line up in attack tonight. Ostensibly, Michu will lead the line, but Del Bosque loves himself a false nine, and with Fabregas on fire at club level, don't be surprised to see some swapping back and forth between the pair.
Bang. Belarus get the ball rolling.
We're just about ready to go, the teams are in position...
Belarus meanwhile are playing for pride at this point, with their best case scenario being to avoid finishing at the foot of the table. Georgi Kondratiev's outfit have won only once, picking up a paltry four points in qualifying. And lest we forget, a Pedro hattrick set Spain on their way to a 4-0 win in the reverse fixture.
Shockingly, Spain have been listed as the out and out favourites for tonight's clash. Should la Roja romp to victory here in Palma, then they need only a point from their final group game against Georgia to assure qualification. But who in their right mind would bet against the reigning World and European champions boarding the plane to Brazil next summer!
Onto the teams, and its a long-awaited international debut for Swansea revelation Michu, who replaced veteran hot-shot David Villa in the Spain squad last week. The former Rayo frontman trumps, Roberto Soldado who has been left home, and Fernando Llorente, who has been doing his best Nicklas Bendtner impression at the Juventus Stadium.
So this game does go ahead after all. A generator explosion at the Iberostar stadium one day ago had left three injured, and put this game in serious doubt. But apparently things have been patched up in time to allow football to be played. Let's hope for a safe one above all else, tonight.
BELARUS: Veremko; Martynovich, Verkhovtsov, Bordachev, Filipenko; Dragun, Zhavnerchik, Putilo, Balanovich; Tigorev, Kalachev.
SPAIN: Valdes; Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Monreal; Busquets, Xavi, Silva; Pedro, Michu, Fabregas.
Teams time, baby.
Greetings everyone, and welcome to the World Cup qualifier between Spain and Belarus. My name is Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be your guide through all the action.
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