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Slovakia shock Spain in qualifiers who continue to disappoint

Following a dreadful World Cup campaign, Spain don’t seem to have improved much, after just losing 2-1 to Slovakia in their Euro 2016 qualifying match. It was the country’s first defeat in a tournament qualifier for eight years; however, Vicente del Bosque’s side are still odds-on with Coral at 1/10 to top Group C.

Iker Casillas has had better games in goal. He first misjudged Juraj Kuka’s long range free-kick as his attempt to palm the ball away was unsuccessful, as it flew into the net. Although Spain equalised in the second half through Valencia’s Paco Alcacer, they looked shadows of their former selves, and clearly miss Xavi, whose eye for a killer pass was quite often the difference.

The home side looked dangerous every time they came forward, however Matus Kozacik was seemingly unbeatable in goal, making an array of world class saves and showing his opposite number exactly how it is done. In the final 10 minutes, though a swift counter-attack resulted in former Chelsea man Miroslav Stoch heading a well executed cross past a floundering Casillas.

Speaking after the match, Slovak keeper Kozacik said: “It was very tough game against a top-quality team. I expected them to create a lot of chances. They were very aggressive. But we played as a team and we managed to take our chances, so we won.”

Their coach Jan Kozak was understandably delighted, and his team now sit top of the group on six points with a 100 per cent record: “I am thrilled,” Kozak said. “We put in a fantastic performance in front of a full stadium. I hope we pleased our fans.

“This win is very precious – Spain have not lost a qualifier in eight years. Our players put in a very brave performance,” he continued.

“We fought very hard and gave our best, especially at the back. All the boys made a fantastic effort and played until the final whistle. People will say Spain underestimated us, but that is not true. We made Spain put maximum effort into the game.

“They gave us some hard times – Kozacik in goal showed his class late in the first half and several times in the second. We had players suffering from cramp, but they battled through the pain and made the whole country happy.”