Spain beat Georgia 2-0 to secure World Cup berth

Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:47pm EDT
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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...

Spain's Alvaro Negredo (R) celebrates his goal with his teammate Andres Iniesta during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Georgia at Carlos Belmonte stadium in Albacete October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina