Spain beat Georgia 2-0 to secure World Cup berth
ALBACETE, Spain (Reuters) - Holders Spain booked their place at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil with a minimum of fuss when Alvaro Negredo and substitute Juan Mata struck in a comfortable 2-0 home win over minnows Georgia on Tuesday.
The victory in Albacete meant the world and European champions finished top of qualification Group I on 20 points from eight matches, three ahead of France, who beat Finland 3-0 in Paris and go into the playoffs.
Negredo, who scored Spain's second in Friday's 2-1 win over Belarus and is looking a strong candidate for a regular place up front, clipped a volleyed Andres Iniesta centre into the net to put Spain ahead in the 26th minute.
The Manchester City forward scuffed a shot against the post five minutes before halftime before Mata, who had replaced Pedro moments earlier, pounced on a loose ball and cracked home from close range in the 61st.
"It (classification) is a routine thing but you have to give it its worth," Del Bosque said at a news conference.
"We had a few problems against the lesser teams but we also showed our strength against a powerful France side," he added in reference to Spain's 1-0 win in Paris in March.
"We almost, almost found ourselves losing out to them in the group but we came through with flying colors."
It was a memorable night for Iniesta, who hails from a small town around 40 kilometers from Albacete, and he was given a rapturous reception by the home fans.
A hero to Spaniards after he scored the goal that secured their first World Cup in South Africa in 2010, his assist for Negredo's goal was a typically effortless piece of skill after his Barcelona team mate Pedro had sent him clear with a deft scooped pass. Continued...