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Spain put 5 past Slovakia, book Euro last-16 berth

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Seville (Spain), June 24 (IANS) Spain produced their best performance of the group stages to qualify for the last-16 of the European Championships with an impressive 5-0 win over Slovakia.

The Spanish showed the determination to carry on after missing their second penalty of the tournament and completely dominated a disappointing Slovakian side for the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Spain coach Luis Enrique made four changes to the side that disappointed against Poland, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Sergio Busquets, Pablo Sarabia and Eric Garcia coming into the side. Dani Olmo, Rodri, Pau Torres and Manuel Llorente were dropped.

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All four enjoyed good games, with Busquets controlling the midfield and Sarabia outstanding in attack.

Spain started strongly with Alvaro Morata flashing a shot across the face of the goal and they were awarded a penalty after nine minutes when Koke’s smart thinking saw him caught by Jakob Hromada.

After Gerard Moreno’s miss against Poland, Morata stepped up only for Martin Dubravka to save a shot that was powerful, but at a comfortable height for the keeper.

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Spain kept their heads up and continued to control the ball, with Azpilicueta’s cross just evading Pedri, before Dubravka produced another good stop to frustrate Morata’s shot from outside of the area.

The keeper then committed a terrible error to gift Spain the lead — Sarabia was unlucky to see his shot bounce off the crossbar but as it dropped, rather that tip it over for a corner, Dubravka flicked into his own net like a bad volleyball player.

Spain kept the pressure on with Koke shooting just wide and Dubravka saving from Moreno, but he was out of position in injury time when Moreno latched onto a ball over the top of the Slovak defence to a cross from Laporte make it 2-0.

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Slovakia replaced Ondrej Duda and Hromada with Stanislav Lobotkaand Michal Duris at the start of the second half, but Spain were playing with confidence and in the 55th minute Busquets and Jordi Alba combined for Sarabi to score their third.

Sarabia then set up substitute Ferran Torres to make it 4-0 with a near-post finish, before some comedy defending ended up with Juraj Kucka putting Pau Torres’ header into his own net to add a fifth.

Spain will now play Croatia in Copenhagen in the last-16.

–IANS

akm/in

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