World Cup 2006 - Play-off, second leg
Slovakia 1 - Spain 1
Spain completed the formalities tonight, drawing 1-1 with Slovakia to qualify 6-2 on aggregate for the World Cup finals in Germany next summer. The tie was as good as over after the first leg, but Luis Aragonés didn't take any chances and only made four changes from his starting line up in Madrid. And his side controlled the first half, with Fernando Torres and Raúl both going close and the East Europeans not having a real effort at goal until Nemeth shot wide ten minutes before the break.
Slovakia went ahead just five minutes after the restart though, half time substitute Holosko latching on to an attempted clearance by Salgado to curl a shot wide of Casillas. There still wasn't much chance of them scoring three more, but Aragonés's 17 game unbeaten record in charge of "La Selección" was in danger, and the coach decided to refresh his attack. It proved to be a master stroke, as a few minutes later substitutes Morientes and David Villa combined for the latter to level the scores.
Salgado, Villa and Sergio Ramos all put Contofalsky to the test after that, but it was all rather academic. Spain will be in the draw on 9th December, and all signs are that they will be one of the top seeds. (16.11.05)