Spain beats Macedonia 1-0 to move closer to Euro 2016
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 09, 2015 11:09 AM
Spain's Sergio Busquets, left, in action with Macedonia's Feran Hasani during the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Macedonia and Spain at the Philip II stadium, in Skopje, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Vlatko Perkovski)
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Spain moved closer to a spot in next year's European Championship by beating Macedonia 1-0 after an own goal by the Macedonian goalkeeper on Tuesday.
Juan Mata's cross from the right side sailed into the far corner and the ball rebounded off the post and the face of goalkeeper Tome Pacovski before crossing the line in the eighth minute.
The victory kept the defending champions top of Group C and on course for the chance to win a third consecutive European title after 2008 and 2012.
Slovakia remained in second place after a 0-0 away draw against third-place Ukraine.
Spain reached 21 points with two matches to play, while Slovakia has 19 points and Ukraine 16.
A home victory against Luxembourg on Oct. 9 will guarantee Spain's place at next year's championship in France.
Spain's final match will be away to Ukraine on Oct. 12.
Coach Vicente Vicente Del Bosque complained of his team's lackluster performance, saying it was well below average.
"It's clear we didn't play very well tonight," he said, adding that his side was "too slow" and "lacked coordination."
Del Bosque made some changes to the team that beat Slovakia 2-0 last week, leaving Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas on the bench. Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea got to start in goal.
In another Group C match on Tuesday, already eliminated Belarus defeated Luxembourg 2-0 at home.