World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

Slovakia 1 - Spain 1

Slovakia: Contofalsky; Zabavnik, Skrtel, Kratochvil, Durica; Krajcik, Hlinka; Hodur (Holosko 46'), Gresko (Cech 78'), Nemeth (Fodrek 83'); Vittek. 4-2-3-1.
Spain: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Puyol, Pablo, Antonio López; Baraja, Xabi Alonso, Xavi (Sergio Ramos 74'), Vicente; Fernando Torres (David Villa 61'), Raúl (Morientes 65'). 4-4-2.

1-0. 50. Holosko. Picked up bad clearance from Salgado and shot wide of Casillas.
1-1. 71. David Villa. Ran on to Morientes cross to shoot low past keeper.

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, two of which were forced on him by the one match ban for Albelda and a niggling injury to Luis García. 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, resting Torres and then Raúl. It proved to be a master stroke, as a few minutes later substitutes Morientes and David Villa combined for the latter to run on to a cross from the former and level the scores.

That put the result beyond doubt, and Michel Salgado came close to putting his side ahead soon afterwards with a darting run which Contofalsky cut out with Villa running in to score. Villa himself tested the keeper a few minutes later, and the third substitute Sergio Ramos (given a run out in midfield in place of Xavi) almost got the goal of the night with a thirty-yarder which Contofalsky somehow kept out of the top corner. 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.