It's all over in Alicante. It was a brave effort from the visitors, but Spain never looked in danger. The hosts should mathematically confirm their place at the World Cup in Israel on Monday.
- 2nd Half
- 1/2 Time
- 1st Half
Spain - Albania
World Cup Qualification UEFA - 7 October 2017
World Cup Qualification UEFA – Follow the Football match between Spain and Albania live with Eurosport. The match starts at 02:45 on 7 October 2017. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Asensio takes the free kick from 35 yards. It sails narrowly over the bar, thanks to a finger tip save from Berisha. No corner given, though.
Ajeti fouls Saul as he charges towards the box. Free kick.
Spain continue to let the guests have possession, extinguishing the danger before it reaches the final third.
Llullaku puts in a dangerous cross, but Ramos clears.
Spain sit back and encourage Albanian possession in the middle. They're doing some Spanish-style passing.
Aduriz finds Koke on the edge of the box. His shot is blocked for a corner. The 'keeper collects from the subsequent move.
Not a lot to report, action-wise. Spain are comfortably knocking it around the middle third.
Aduriz is 36 years old, by the way.
SUB: Rodrigo is replaced by Athletic Club's Aduriz. Rodrigo scored a beauty, but missed several easy chances.
Spain have had 25 attempts to Albania's 13.
Italy are winning 1-0, so Spain will not automatically qualify tonight if the results hold.
The pace is lower now, but Spain have strung together several 25+ pass moves in the last few minutes.
Alba crosses from the left to Isco, who finds Asensio. Saul is fed the ball on the edge of the area, but shoots wide.
SUB: Marco Asensio replaces Silva.
CHANCE: Latifi shots at David De Gea, who tips the ball to Sadiku. His first-time effort goes over the bar from around eight yards.
Silva makes a 20-yard run and finds Isco on the right. His cross/shot sails narrowly over the bar.
Isco's aforementioned free kick came as Hysaj was booked for bringing down Rodrigo.
Isco tees up a free kick from 25 yards. It flies over the bar.
CHANCE: Sadiku heads the post with a header that came from a long-range pass. It's the second time they've hit the woodwork.
Alba picks out Silva on the edge of the area, who has another shot blocked.
Albania win another corner. Memushaj puts it straight into De Gea's hands.
SUB: Latifi replaces Grezda for the visitors' final change.
David Silva gets a yellow card that's been a long time coming for a foul on Agolli. He'll also miss the trip to Israel.
Understandably, Spain appear to have taken their foot off the gas. They're happy to cede some possession and keep it in the middle third.
Isco picks out Rodrigo with a beautiful long ball. Isco sprints into the box and has a soft penalty claim denied.
Spain have had 62% possession. It feels like they've had a lot more.
Albania win a corner after Kace pushes forward. Kace takes it short, but Spain neutralise the threat.
Nacho replaces Pique. Surprisingly, the Catalan gets a standing ovation from large sections of the crowd.
CHANCE: Ajeti narrowly heads wide from the corner!
Albania enjoy their longest spell of possession of the game. Hysaj sees his cross blocked by Alba and trickle out for a corner.
After some more mesmerising build-up play in the final third, Rodrigo puts a shot into Row Z. An undignified finish to a lovely period of passing.
CHANCE: Silva put Rodrigo clear through, he stays narrowly onside, but Berisha does well to tip his shot wide for a corner.
In the build-up to Koke's header, Thiago pulled off a very cheeky backheel pass to Alba on the edge of the area. Lovely showboating.
CHANCE: Jordi Alba finds completely Koke free in the box, but his downwards header is saved by the 'keeper.
Odriozola sprints down the flank and finds Silva. The Man City man tries to reel off another shot, but once again spends too much time teeing it up and is blocked.
Llullaku gets the chance of a header from the subsequent free kick but directs it wide.
Pique is booked for a wrestling-style clothesline move on Sadiku. He'll miss the Israel game now.
Grezda earns Albania's fourth yellow of the night for scything down Jordi Alba in the centre circle.
Sub: Agolli replaces Memolla and Sadiku comes on for Balliu. No changes for the hosts.
Albania do nothing with the resultant corner and the ref blows up for half time. Spain have put on quite the show thus far in Alicante tonight.
Pique tries to be clever in the box but is dispossessed by Grezda. Albania get a shot off - Pique has done himself no favours there.
Memolla attempts a cross but is foiled by Koke. Spain's movement off the ball is very... Spain. By that, I mean brilliant.
Alba finds Isco on the edge of the box. He winds up a shot but it's blocked. Isco has been resplendent tonight.
Grezda crosses low and nearly finds Memushaj in the box. But man-of-the-moment Odriozola blocks the danger.
CHANCE: Yet another wonderful cross from Odriozola finds Rodrigo virtually unmarked a few yards out. He manages to head it over.
Albania win a free kick around 40 yards out. Kace swings it in and Xhaka hoofs a disappointing shot high over the bar.
This may shape out to be an easy win for Spain, but their play has been mesmerising to watch at times.
CHANCE: After some more beautiful edge-of-the-area passing between Silva and Rodrigo, Jordi Alba shoots low and wide.
Italy are currently level with Macedonia. As it stands, Spain are booking their World Cup place tonight.
Silva finds Rodrigo in the area, whose shot is blocked at point-blank range by Berisha.
Silva finds Jordi Alba with another sublime through-ball. His subsequent cross is deflected away. The outside-of-the-foot from Silva pass was just wonderful.
Albania win a corner. Memushaj receives the ball at his feet but fires wide.
The relentless Pique whistling continues. For the record, there are a lot of Castilian Real Madrid fans in Alicante.
Kace booked for apparently elbowing Jordi Alba when going for a header.
Just before the goal, Xhaka did the family name proud with a booking for a foul on Koke.
Great movement for Thiago on the goal. He sprinted 15 yards to the edge of the six-yard box to meet the cross.
GOAL: Thiago heads in an Odriozola high cross that spent a LONG time in the air. Statuesque defending from ALbania.
CHANCE: Kace rattles the crossbar with a header. De Gea was not expecting that.
That goal came from a Pique-Odriozola-SIlva-Pique passing movement. Superb movement.
GOAL: Another great finish. Koke finds Isco in the box, who turns and shoots hard into the roof of the net from around 7 yards.
Memushaj's rubbish corner doesn't even stay in play. Unforgivable at this level.
Pique concedes a corner from around 40 yards out. Cruel deflection.
Silva loses his defender in the box by spinning 360 degrees and shoots narrowly wide.
CHANCE: Ramos heads a Koke free kick just over the bar, but it's ruled offside.
Rodirgo repents for his earlier miss with a wonderful finish. Isco's through-ball - from the aforementioned edge of the area where he's been getting loads of space - might have been a no-look pass.
GOAL: Isco feeds a sublime ball to Rodrigo from the edge area, who chests it down and slots past Berisha. A lovely looking goal.
Llullaku is booked for clattering Pique when going for a header. He'll miss the last qualifier.
CHANCE: Rodrigo heads narrowly wide form an Odriozola cross. The Valencia man should have done better.
Isco and Thiago are being offered quite a lot of space on the edge of the area. A long shot goal from one of them seem possible.
Hysaj heads the danger clear for a Spanish corner. The visitors deal with the short corner.
Silva has a shot blocked on the edge of the area. He waited too long to unleash it.
Isco shoots low and the ball lands at Silva's feet. Albania diffuse the situation well.
Odriozola attempts a cross but it is blocked and flies back into his own face and out for a goal kick. Ouch.
Grezda somehow gets through the Spanish defence and manages the first shot on target of the game. It meekly rolls into De Gea's arms.
Silva dances around the edge of the area and tries to find Jordi Alba in the box. The ball falls to Thiago, whose long shot is blocked.
Thiago puts in a cross for Rodrigo, whose shot dribbles wide.
The Pique whistling is very loud. Goodness knows what will happen if he scored.
Lots of involvement from Odriozola on the right so far. Silva finds him on the right, but his cross leads nowhere.
Free kick given against Thiago for a rough sliding challenge on Xhaka.
Thiago has space on the edge of the box. He passes right to Odriozola but the move is cut short.
Albania are applying a lot of pressure down the right flank. Pique is whistled loudly when he touches the ball.
Spain are dispossessed within 18 seconds. Albania win a throw-on near the corner flag.
Russian referee Aleksey Eskov gets the party started.
Five of Spain's starting XI are on yellow cards - including the entire back line.
National anthem time. Spain have never lost a home World Cup qualifier.
When his name was read out over the PA system, Pique was jeered. The Estadio Municipal El Molinón holds a little over 20,000.
The teams are coming onto the pitch. Given recent events, it will be curious to see the Alicante crowd's reaction to Gerard Pique. For what it's worth, he received a warm welcomed when the team arrived at the airport.
In the reverse fixture, almost exactly a year ago, the Albanians held their visitors to a goalless first half. Diego Costa (remember him?) and Nolito confirmed a 2-0 win in the second period.
Spain are in the mood for this one.
Albania have taken seven points from their last three qualifiers, beating Israel and Lichtenstein while drawing with Macedonia. However, their head-to-head with the Spanish isn't so rosey: they have lost all six previous encounters, conceding 26 times in the process.
Lopetegui’s Spain are in devastating form at the moment: they have scored 11 unanswered goals in their last two matches and have managed an aggregate score of 19-1 on home soil in four qualifiers (Israel managed to bag a consolation in Gijon back in March).
Spain can qualify for their eleventh consecutive World Cup if they manage to better Italy’s result at home to Macedonia tonight. If both Spain and Italy win, as expected, La Rosa will need just a solitary point in Israel on Monday to book those flights to Russia. Albania, meanwhile, still have a very slim chance of qualification via the play-offs as they sit six points behind the Italians in UEFA Group G.
SPAIN: De Gea, Odriozola, Piqué, Ramos, Alba; Saúl, Koke, Thiago, Isco, Silva, Rodrigo. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Reina, Azpilicueta, Illarramendi, Nacho, Callejon, Aduriz, Pedro, Viera, Monreal, Aspas, Asensio /// ALBANIA: Berisha; Hysaj, Ajeti, Veseli, Balliu; Memushaj, Taulant Xhaka, Kaçe; Grezda, Llullaku, Memolla. Subs: Hoxha, Kolici, Lila, Lenjani, Xhimshiti, Agolli, Basha, Sadique, Latifi, Ahmedi, Ndoj.
Granit Xhaka's elder brother Taulant will be part of the midfield in Albania's 3-5-2, while forward Azdren Llullaku of Kazakhstan's FC Tobol will earn his sixth cap - it remains to be seen if he is as effective as his vague namesake Romelu. The visitors, lest we remind you, are managed by former Real Madrid defender Christian Panucci.
Julen Lopetegui makes a few changes to Spain's starting XI tonight, with in-form Valencia striker Rodrigo getting the nod up front (in Alvaro Morata's absence) and a debut for Real Sociedad's Alvaro Odriozola (who fills in for Dani Carvajal).
Hello and welcome to Eurosport's live commentary of Spain's World Cup Qualifier with Albania. This is Ryan Bailey (@ryanjaybailey) taking you through all the action from the Estadio José Rico Pérez in Alicante.