Spain vs. Belarus: Final score 2-1, Del Bosque's men labour to dour win

David Ramos

Spain took their time to break down a resolute Belarus side with two second-half goals from Xavi and Alvaro Negredo in World Cup qualifying.

Spain managed to gain a fairly gritty win over a determined Belarus side with second-half goals from Xavi and Alvaro Negredo enough to secure a victory for the hosts. Xavi and Alvaro Negredo did the damage before Sergey Kornilenko pulled back a consolation goal for the visitors.

Spain had gotten off to a slow start and struggled to make an impact on the game as Belarus kept them at bay with surprisingly little trouble. A pair of efforts from Pedro and Cesc Fabregas were the closest the hosts got in the first half, and they even rode their luck in letting Belarus in.

First Vitali Rodionov was close to pouncing from a corner, requiring a smart intervention from Victor Valdes to deny the visitors a surprise goal, before Sergio Ramos was somewhat lucky to escape giving away a penalty after a cross deflected off his thigh before striking him on a partially extended arm.

In the second half, Spain upped their tempo slightly and began putting more pressure on the visitors. Pedro came close again by dragging a near-post effort wide, before Xavi pounced to break the deadlock, getting onto the end of a loose ball in the area with a smart run from deep to smash the ball home from the edge of the area.

That took the wind out of Belarus' sails, although hardly opened the floodgates, with Spain continuing to play a ponderous game after the goal. Yet with some pressure still being exerted, Spain made it two shortly afterwards. Alvaro Negredo, who had been introduced for the ineffective Michu, pounced to convert Sergio Ramos' cross home from 12 yards out with a diving header to secure the points.

In the closing minutes, Sergio Ramos fired in a dipping effort and came close to making it three, but Alyaksandar Hutar denied the Real Madrid full-back with a sprawling save. Belarus, remarkably, managed to pull one back in the dying minutes, with Sergey Kornilenko being sent clean through after some sloppy positioning from the hosts. The former Blackpool man showed a surprising turn of pace to get away from his marker before sending a fine finish past Valdes into the far corner.

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