Asier Illarramendi stunner ensures Spain finish campaign unbeaten
World Cup Qualifier, Group G - Teddy Stadium - Israel 0 Spain 1 (Illarramendi 76')
Spain ended their World Cup qualifying campaign unbeaten thanks to a 1-0 win over Israel on Monday night.
Asier Illarramendi’s sweetly-struck volley was enough to separate the two sides at the Teddy Stadium, leaving Spain with nine wins from 10 games in Group G.
Having secured qualification on Friday thanks to Italy’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia, Spain made 10 changes with just Sergio Ramos remaining from the side that beat Albania 3-0.
An ultimately turgid affair was decided when Illarramendi’s volley flew into the top corner with 15 minutes to go - a moment which truly defied the match it featured in.
It was the Real Sociedad midfielder’s first goal for La Roja, and it helped Spain keep their unbeaten record in World Cup qualifying going, which dates back to 1993.
Spain’s second string struggle to sparkle – A lot is often made of the strength in depth that nations such as Spain possess, but there was nothing scary about this Spanish B team. Few players who featured tonight will be certainties to make the plane for Russia, and very few will have impressed Julen Lopetegui with tonight’s showing. There are plenty of months to go, but there was no fringe player who was out to make a statement, which is disappointing because the opportunity was there for them.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Marco Asensio – One player who is all-but guaranteed his place on the plane is Marco Asensio, and in a drab match, the Real Madrid man stood out. He was one of few players who wanted to make something happen, and though the night will be remembered for Illarramendi’s strike, Asensio will have at least alerted Lopetegui that he has starting potential.
Spain's coach Julen Lopetegui reacts during the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup European Group G qualifying football match between Israel and Spain at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on October 9, 2017.Eurosport
27’ - CLOSE! No one gets near Illarramendi as he carries it to the edge of the box. His eventual shot is blocked and goes flying into the night sky, but as it comes down Aduriz is unable to loop his header over Harush in the Israel goal.
33’ - SAVE! This is as close as Spain have come! And it's Ramos with a shot to nothing from 25 yards out. It looks to be dipping in, and Harush does well to tip it over for a corner, which comes to nothing for the visitors.
42’ SAVE!! Oh Pedro how have you missed this? The forward is played through on goal and it's a one on one with the 'keeper, but Harush gets down to keep it out!
65 - CHANCE! What a bizarre moment this is! It looks like Asensio was offside but play goes on, and his low ball into the middle is not met by Aduriz, despite the forward appearing to be right there to tuck it away!
76 - WHAT A PEACH FROM ILLARRAMENDI! A goal that defies the game it featured in. It's a simply stunning half-volley from Illarramendi from 25 yards out. A corner is headed out and falls into his path, he lines up the shot and hits it perfectly into the top corner. Brilliant technique.