Reigning European champions Spain suffered their first defeat in the qualifying stages of a major tournament in eight years, as Miroslav Stoch’s late strike saw Slovakia register a shock 2-1 victory over Vicente del Bosque’s outfit in their Euro 2016 Group C match at the MSK Stadium on Thursday.
Juraj Kucka’s free kick in the 17th minute that went past a flustered Iker Casillas saw Jan Kozak’s side take a 1-0 lead in the first half and despite dominating possession throughout, the Spanish attack failed to get past a motivated Matus Kozacik in the goal post.
Substitute Paca Alacecer, who came in the 71st minute for David Silva, did try to redeem La Roja of the skipper’s early blunder, as he scored a left footed shot off a Jordi Alba assist to equalise it for the former World champions in the 82th minute.
But Spain’s hopes of taking back a point from the clash were shattered by Miroslav Stoch, when the former Chelsea player converted a Michal Duris cross into a header in the 87th minute to ensure that the Slovakians bagged the important three points in Zilina.
The loss ended the 2008 and 2012 European champions run of being unbeaten in 37 Euro Cup or World Cup qualifiers, their last defeat coming against Sweden in 2006, where they lost 2-0 in the Euro 2008 qualifier.
Forward Diego Costa failed to duplicate his brilliant form with Chelsea on the field for his adopted country, once again failing to find the net for Spain as the 26-year-old was denied a shot moments before the break by the Slovak shot-stopper, who followed it up with an equally brilliant save from Sergio Busquets.
“We did our best to overcome the Slovak defence, had good opportunities, but were not successful in the end”, the Spanish manager was quoted as saying by UEFA’s official website.
Slovakia now lead the table with six points in two games, followed by Spain, who have three along with Ukraine and Macedonia. Luxembourg and Belarus occupy the last two spots with one point each.
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