Manchester City midfielder David Silva scored his fourth goal in as many matches for Spain as the World Cup Qualifying Group G leaders scraped past minnows Macedonia with a 2-1 victory.
Silva has opened the scoring for Spain in every fixture in 2017 – against Israel, France, Colombia and now Macedonia – and it took the 31-year-old just 14 minutes to find the back of the net, turning Vanche Shikov and sending Stole Dimitrievski the wrong way after neat build-up play between Barcelona pair Jordi Alba and Andrés Iniesta.
Spain’s lead was doubled after Isco’s continuous work on the wing came to fruition, beating Kire Ristevski and drilling the ball across the box to Diego Costa, who was left with a simple finish at the back post to become the joint top goalscorer in World Cup Qualifying Group G with five goals – level with Italy’s Ciro Immobile.
The first half mostly consisted of constant Spain pressure but Macedonia maintained a threat on the break, with the complacency of the Spanish backline affording Macedonia the chance to half the deficit on several occasions. Last-ditch challenges and David De Gea’s presence, however, ensured that Julen Lopetegui’s side went into the break with a two-goal lead.
After the interval, Spain pushed to extend their lead and were presented with a golden opportunity when Gerard Pique misplaced a free header from six yards moments after Silva’s effort was cleared off of the goalline by Shikov. Spain’s aforementioned defensive complacency came back to haunt them, though, when defender Stefan Ristovski beat the whole back four with a marauding run before hammering the ball past De Gea into the top corner to restore hope for the home fans.
Nerves began to creep in for Spain as Macedonia pushed forward in search of an equaliser. The last 20 minutes comprised a risky tactic from the visitors, as they looked to regain their two-goal advantage at the risk of conceding on the counter-attack. Neither side, however, managed to create any clear-cut opportunities and Spain took all three points, remaining in pole position to qualify from the group ahead of their crunch match against Italy.