By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
It was a night of records and landmarks in Alicante. Spain beat Scotland 3-1 to end their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a perfect record and deny their visitors a place in next season's continental competition in Poland and Ukraine.
But it was much more than that.
This was Spain's 14th victory in competitive matches, bringing La Roja level with a mark previously set by The Netherlands (whose run they ended in the World Cup final last year) and France. Since losing to Switzerland in the opening match of the South Africa showpiece, Spain beat Honduras, Chile, Paraguay, Portugal, Germany and Holland to claim the biggest trophy in football, before embarking on a flawless European qualifying campaign which saw them brush aside Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Scotland - home and away.
It wasn't all plain sailing, though. Vicente del Bosque's side were forced to dig deep to down the Czechs at home after going a goal down in the first half and needed a late Fernando Llorente winner to seal all three points in Scotland.
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Nevertheless, the eight wins will have sent a message to their rivals. Spain remain the team to beat and Del Bosque will be delighted that so many of his squad made positive contributions to the qualifying campaign. Juan Mata came of age in a Spain shirt, David Silva was simply sensational in the last two games, hitting two and setting up the winner on Tuesday, while Jordi Alba made a fine debut at left-back, Carles Puyol returned from injury and Xavi continues to shine brightly in midfield.
And then there's David Villa. Scorer of five goals for Spain at the World Cup, the Barcelona striker netted seven in Group I and Tuesday's third against Scotland was his 50th international strike, elevating him to an elite group of strikers who have reached a half century for their countries.
Ahead of him, among others, lie Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry (51), Zico (52), Romario (55), Gabriel Batistuta (56), Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose (62), Gerd Muller (68), Pele (77), Ferenc Puskas (84) and all-time top scorer Ali Daei (109).
So as Villa, still only 29, continues to rack up the goals, his and Spain's next challenge will be to become the first team to win a European Championship, a World Cup and then another continental competition consecutively.
With the likes of Germany, Holland and Italy looking strong ahead of next summer's tournament, it may be a big ask. But for this record-breaking Roja side, anything is possible.
SPAIN'S EURO 2012 QUALIFYING RESULTS
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