Silva goal gives Spain 1-0 victory over Belarus in Euro '16 qualifiers
Silva rewarded Spain's strong first-half performance with a goal just before the break, but Iker Casillas had to protect Spain's advantage with timely saves in the second half.sports Updated: Jun 15, 2015 04:09 IST
David Silva scored to give Spain a 1-0 win against Belarus in coach Vicente del Bosque's 100th match in charge on Sunday, as the two-time defending champions moved closer to qualifying for Euro 2016.
Silva rewarded Spain's strong first-half performance with a goal just before the break, but Iker Casillas had to protect Spain's advantage with timely saves in the second half.
It was Spain's 78th victory, to go with eight draws and 14 losses, since Del Bosque took over in August 2008.
Spain remained in second place in Group C, three points behind leader Slovakia after its 2-1 win over Macedonia. Slovakia made it six wins in as many qualifiers, while Ukraine beat Luxembourg 3-0 to stay in third place, three points adrift of Spain. Belarus was left on four points, ahead of Macedonia with three and Luxembourg with one.
Only Spain's poor finishing kept the visitors from going ahead earlier in Borisov. Pedro Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas all sent shots into the arms of goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov, who also saw Jordi Alba's strike just miss the corner of this net in the 32nd.
Alvaro Morata earned a free kick that led to Spain's breakthrough in the 45th. Gorbunov left his line in a vain attempt to reach Fabregas' cross to the far post for Silva, who smashed the ball in off a defender.
Overwhelmed in the first half, Belarus forced Spain to work to hold onto the three points.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas used his left boot to block Belarus' first chance for Sergei Kornilenko after Aleksandr Hleb set him up in the 49th. Maksim Bordachev made the home fans groan when he squandered a shot from inside the box shortly before Casillas parried Ivan Maevski effort from long range in the 62nd.
Spain eventually settled down and Gorbunov denied Silva, Santi Cazorla and Morata to keep Belarus in the game.
In Zilina, Kornel Salata started in place of injured defender Jan Durica and soon made his mark by heading in Slovakia's eighth-minute opener. Marek Hamsik made it 2-0 in the 38th before Arijan Ademi pulled one back for Macedonia in the 69th.
In Lviv, Ukraine eased past Luxembourg after a scoreless first half, with goals from Artem Kravets, Denys Garmash and Yevhen Konoplyanka. Luxembourg's winless streak away from home reached 17 matches, dating back to 2008.
In Group G, Russia's hopes of qualifying were dealt a blow as Fabio Capello's side slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Austria. Giant striker Marc Janko scored the only goal of the game for the Austrians with a spectacular overhead kick in the 33rd minute at Spartak Moscow's Otkrytie Arena as they extended their lead at the top of the section.
After six games, unbeaten Austria -- whose only previous European Championship appearance came as co-hosts in 2008 -- are top with 16 points, four points clear of Sweden, with Russia a further four points adrift in third, which is likely to bring with it a play-off place.
Sweden won 3-1 at home to Montenegro with Marcus Berg opening the scoring before skipper Ibrahimovic, of Paris Saint-Germain, netted twice in four minutes just before half-time, with Dejan Damjanovic hitting a penalty consolation for the away side.
Also in Group G, Liechtenstein and Moldova drew 1-1 with Sandro Wieser's brilliant strike putting the hosts ahead in Vaduz before Gheorghe Boghiu levelled.
Switzerland came from behind to beat Lithuania 2-1 in Vilnius. Fiodor Cernych put the home side ahead in the second half but Josip Drmic equalised soon after for the Swiss before Xherdan Shaqiri of Inter Milan got the winning goal six minutes from time.
Sergei Zenjov scored two goals either side of half-time as Estonia defeated minnows San Marino 2-0 in Tallinn.
After a long break, Spain will host Slovakia on Sept. 5 in a match that could decide the group winner.
The top two teams of the nine groups and the best third-place finisher qualify for the final phase of the tournament in France next summer. Another eight teams enter through a playoff round.
(With inputs from AFP and AP)