Oct 11, 2013 at 9pm UK
Spain
2-1
Belarus
Hernandez (61'), Negredo (78')
Pique (33')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kornilenko (89')
Martynovich (12'), Bordachev (54'), Kalachev (66'), Dragun (91'), Verkhovtsov (93')

Live Commentary: Spain 2-1 Belarus - as it happened

Live Commentary: Spain 2-1 Belarus - as it happened
© Getty Images
Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Iberostar Stadium as Spain beat Belarus 2-1.

Spain welcomed Belarus in their World Cup qualifier on Friday knowing that victory would leave them needing just one point from their final Group I match to book their spot in Brazil next summer.

The world and European champions had 80% of the possession in the first period, but they could not make the breakthrough with Belarus compact in defensive areas.

The match followed a similar pattern in the early stages of the second half, but a thumping strike from Xavi moved Spain ahead just past the hour mark, before Alvaro Negredo made it 2-0 after 78 minutes.

Sergei Kornilenko had one back for Belarus in stoppage time, but it was a case of too little too late as the home side held on for a vital three points as they moved one step closer to booking their spot in the finals.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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8.31pmEvening all! Our World Cup qualification coverage continues from Spain this evening as the world and European champions welcome Belarus. The match had been in doubt due to a generator explosion at the Iberostar on Thursday, but we are here and the game does indeed go ahead. Unsurprisingly, Spain enter the match as the overwhelming favourite to secure all the points.

8.34pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Swansea City's Michu will make his international debut for Spain this evening after replacing the injured Atletico Madrid striker David Villa in the squad last week. His inclusion was a surprise, however, with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Roberto Soldado and Juventus’s Fernando Llorente both left out of the party. Also in the Spain side are Victor Valdes, Nacho Monreal and Alvaro Arbeloa. Full teams to follow.

8.37pmTEAMS:

SPAIN: Valdes; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Monreal; Xavi, Busquets; Silva, Michu, Pedro; Fabregas

BELARUS: Gutor; Martynovich, Verkhovtsov, Bordachev, Filipenko; Dragun, Zhavnerchik, Putilo, Balanovich; Tigorev, Kalachev


8.40pmSo there we have it. Cesc Fabregas will seemingly lead the line for Spain, while there are also starts for Xavi and Sergio Busquets in midfield. Belarus, meanwhile, are without Sergei Kornilenko, who has scored 13 goals for his country, and goalkeeper Sergei Veremko, with Gutor starting in goal. There are also starts for Timofei Kalachev and Anton Putilo.

8.43pmSpain currently sit top of Group I having won four and drawn two of their six matches thus far, but they are level with France on 14 points. France, however, have played one game more than La Roja and therefore three points against Belarus would leave Vicente del Bosque’s side needing just one point from their final clash with Georgia to secure automatic qualification.

8.46pmBelarus, meanwhile, currently sit bottom of the group having taken just four points from their seven matches, but they could move above Georgia with all three points in Spain. That said, Georgi Kondratiev's side have only won once during this qualifying campaign and they were beaten 4-0 in the corresponding clash last season, with Pedro scoring three times for the away side.

8.49pmLet’s take a look at how each side has fared this far. Spain opened their Group I campaign with a 1-0 win in Georgia in September 2012, before beating Belarus 4-0 on the road. They disappointed on their own patch, however, with a 1-1 draw against France followed by a surprise 1-1 draw with Finland.

8.52pmThey returned to form on the road, however, with a vital 1-0 win in France, before picking up all three points with a 2-0 won over Finland last time out. They have conceded just twice in their six matches thus far, which is an impressive record. As mentioned, their final two matches sees them face Belarus this evening before facing Georgia in Albacete on Tuesday.

8.55pmBelarus, meanwhile, opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat in Georgia in September 2012, before going down 3-1 in France. Next came the 4-0 defeat against Spain, but they did put their first points on the board with a 2-0 win over Georgia in October 2012. Since then, they have lost to Finland on the road, drawn with Finland at home and lost to France on their own patch.

8.58pmPREDICTION: It is a much-changed XI for Spain this evening with Vicente del Bosque deciding to experiment with a number of his midfielders. That said, there is still incredible quality throughout the team. Belarus will be compact this evening, but I am finding it difficult to make a case for them. I expect a comfortable 3-0/4-0 win for Spain in Mallorca.

0 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just a reminder that Michu makes his debut for Spain this evening. Can the Swansea striker mark it with a goal? The away side get the action underway on this warm evening in Spain.

2 minNot the biggest stadium for a fixture of this magnitude with the Iberostar holding little over 23,000. Unsurprisingly, it is packed to the rafters with the home supporters making their voices heard in the early stages. As expected, Spain have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of moments with the likes of Xavi and Busquets setting the early tempo.

4 minEverybody in white is behind the ball at the moment as Spain settle into their passing style in the final third. Pedro attempts to force the issue as he drives a low cross into Michu, but the Swansea forward cannot make contact. Belarus, meanwhile, have simply not been allowed possession of the ball thus far. It could be a long night for the away side.

6 minNot too much to report in terms of clear chances in the opening six minutes of football, but Spain continue to dominate the possession. Dragun finally has possession for Belarus moments later, but he runs into two red shirts. It must be said that the noise inside the stadium is just sensational this evening.

8 minIt's good work from Arbeloa as the Spain right-back combines with Silva before driving a low cross into the box, but Bordachev is across to make the clearance. Pedro takes matters into his own hands moments later with a dangerous cross towards Fabregas, but once more the danger is cleared. Backs against the wall for Belarus.

10 minHalf-chance for the away side as Kalachev wins a free kick down the right. The attacker whips the resulting set piece into the box, but Valdes does manage to collect following a period of pin-ball inside the box. That will hand Belarus confidence. Silva is down the other end moments later, but he is felled by Tigorev.

13 minThe home side remain in complete control of the possession as they pass and probe outside the Belarus box, but they are finding it difficult to pick holes in their defence. The away side once more manage to break moments later, but Bordachev is challenged by Pique. End-to-end football in the last couple of moments, but still goalless in this World Cup qualifier.

15 minMartynovich has his name taken for Belarus as the defender fells Pedro outside the box. The resulting set piece is taken by Xavi, but his effort is straight into the wall. Eventually Michu manages to collect inside the box, but Filipenko closes the door. Hardly any space to operate in and around the away side's penalty area.

17 minFirst real sign of Michu as the Spain forward is found by Silva inside the box, but Putsila manages to clear at the vital moment. The resulting set piece is delivered towards Busquets, but the Barcelona midfielder cannot make contact. Spain are just starting to up the tempo with Silva seeing plenty of the ball.

19 minCHANCE! The first real chance of the match comes to Silva as the Spain attacker meets a cross from Arbeloa, but his header is just wide of the post. That is about as close as either side has come thus far. Belarus have been more comfortable than they might have expected there is no question about that.

22 minWonderful noise inside the stadium, but not too much for the home supporters to get excited about thus far with Belarus comfortable in dealing with the threat from the world and European champions. Silva looks the most likely to force the issue as he cuts into the opposing penalty area, but Tigorev is across to clear. Belarus continue to leave all 11 men behind the ball.

24 minSpain counter with Michu as the Swansea striker picks the pocket of Tigorev before finding Silva, but the Manchester City midfielder cannot find Arbeloa on the over-lap. In keeping with the end-to-end period of the match, Belarus have a half-chance as Kalachev delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but Valdes is happy to let it move out for a throw. Nervy moment for the home side.

26 minSpain continue to dominate the possession as they pass and probe outside the Belarus box, but they just cannot find a way through with the away side keeping at least nine men behind the ball each time they lose possession. Unfortunately, it has not been the most pleasing match to watch thus far with just one real chance of note.

28 minJust a reminder that four points from Spain's last two matches would be enough to secure their spot in the World Cup finals next summer. Belarus, meanwhile, currently sit bottom of Group I and are therefore out of the reckoning. Still goalless with 28 minutes on the clock. Not too much for Spain to get excited about at the moment.

31 minAgain it's good work from Silva as the Manchester City attacker drives down the right before delivering a low cross into the box, but the danger is cleared. Arbeloa is on the attack moments later, but his cross is into the arms of Gutor. Spain have had 76% of the possession thus far, but have not done too much with it. Little under 15 minutes of the first period remaining in Mallorca.

33 minMore frustration for Spain as Fabregas attempts to find the run of Pedro, only for the offside flag to be raised. Spain boss Del Bosque does not look too pleased at the moment as he waves his arms on the sidelines. He has won 65 of his 80 matches with Spain and will expect to make that 66 of 81 this evening. What a stunning record for the former Real Madrid manager.

35 minHalf-chance for the away side as Balanovich stands over a free kick down the right, but his cross is punched clear by Valdes. There has been a comfortable of uncomfortable moments for Spain in the last couple of moments as another deep cross comes into the box, but Pique manages to clear. Still goalless with little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining in Mallorca.

38 minHalf-chance for Michu as the Spain number seven meets a cross from Monreal, but he can only place his header wide of the post. The Swansea striker has been forced to feed off scraps thus far. Belarus continue to demonstrate their attacking intent as Dragun attempts to slide a pass towards Tigorev, but Valdes is on hand to quell the danger at the vital moment.

40 minThe opportunities are just starting to come for the home side as Silva finds some room outside the box before attempting to curl an effort into the bottom corner, but Gutor is on hand to make the save. Pedro has a similar chance moments later, but his effort is wide of the post. Good spell for the home side.

43 minAnother chance for Spain to test Gutor as Silva is felled outside the box by Bordachev. Once more the resulting free kick is taken by Xavi, but Gutor is on hand to clear the danger. Defensively Belarus have been impressive this evening there is no question about that. However, Spain have been lacklustre in the final third. Not too much time remaining in the first period.

45 minSpain continue to dominate in the latter stages of the half, but Belarus are taking no chances as they leave 10 of their 11 players behind the ball. Arbeloa does force a low cross into the box moments later, but Putsila clears the danger. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute at the end of the half.

45 min+1Belarus want a penalty in the latter stages of the first period as Pique appears to handle inside the box, but the referee is not interested. I have certainly seen them given. Spain have got away with one there.

45 min+1HALF-TIME: Spain 0-0 Belarus

9.47pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the half to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. As expected, Spain have dominated the possession, but they have really struggled to break this stern Belarus team down. Frustration for Del Bosque and his backroom staff as both sets of players depart the pitch in Mallorca.

9.52pmSTATISTICS: It will come as no surprise that Spain have had 80% of the possession this evening. However, they have managed just one attempt on goal. Belarus have had one attempt, but it was off target. The referee has also awarded a couple of yellow cards with Pique entering the book for Spain and Martynovich for Belarus.

9.57pmBENCH WATCH: Spain have a wealth of attacking talent on their bench this evening with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Juan Mata, Isco, Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo all in reserve. However, Belarus also have options in the shape of Kornilenko, Rodionov and Renan. It would not be a surprise to see Dl Bosque make changes at the interval.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Just a reminder that a point for Spain would leave them needing to beat Georgia next week to secure their spot in the finals next summer. It would be a surprise if they did not make a breakthrough in this half. Spain get the half underway.

48 minDel Bosque made one change at the interval with Iniesta entering in place of Monreal, which is an indication of what we should expect from Spain this half. The home side have started with a better intensity in the second period with every pass moving that much quicker.

50 minPedro could have a problem here as the Barcelona winger thumps into the cameramen at the side of the pitch following a challenge with Balanovich. However, he does return to his feet moments later. As expected, Belarus continue to put men behind the ball in the early stages of this half. You just get the feeling that if Spain score one, they will score four. But Belarus are a threat on the counter there is no question about that.

53 minFabregas takes matters into his own hands moments later as he slides a pass towards Michu, but Gutor is out to clear at the vital moment. The pressure continues moments later as Xavi combines with Iniesta on the edge of the box, but Putsila is across to clear. The home supporters are doing their best to raise the atmosphere inside the stadium.

55 minSpain want a penalty as Verkhovstov appears to fell Pedro inside the box. However, replays have shown that it was a good challenge from the defender and indeed a good decision from the referee. Michu attempts the spectacular moments later, but his volley is high and wide of the crossbar. Still goalless with 55 minutes on the clock.

57 minAnother opportunity for Xavi to fashion something from a free kick just outside the box, but once more Gutor is on hand to make the clearance under pressure from Pique. Spain continue to pass and probe outside the box moments later, eventually Xavi finds Fabregas, but the Barcelona midfielder had moved into an offside position.

59 minSpain make their first change of the evening as Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo enters the field in place of Michu, who has struggled to make a serious impact on his debut. However, I am certain that his time will come. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining with the scores still goalless. Who would have predicted that?!

61 minIt's good work from Pedro as the Barcelona winger drives down the right before delivering a dangerous cross into the box, but Putsila is on hand to clear the danger. The resulting set piece is met by Pique, but Gutor is on hand to claim under pressure from Negredo. Belarus break down the other end with Putsila, but Arbeloa quells the danger.

61 minGOAL! Spain 1-0 Belarus (Xavi)

62 minBreakthrough Spain! The home side have the lead as Xavi latches onto a loose ball inside the box before thumping a low effort into the bottom corner. Stunning finish from the skipper. Well, that has changed the atmosphere inside the stadium.

64 minSpain have made hard work of this thus far, but they do lead with little over 25 minutes of football remaining. As it stands, they would need just one point from their final match with Georgia to book their spot in the World Cup next summer. Belarus have nothing to lose here and therefore we could see them open up in the latter stages.

66 minSpain continue to dominate the possession in the opposing half with Iniesta and Busquets just settling the match in midfield. However, you just get the feeling that we have not seen the last of the scoring this evening. I think it would be fair to say that another goal for Spain would secure all the points, but Belarus are still a threat on the counter.

68 minNot too much to report in the last couple of moments with the tempo being slowed as the referee continues to deal with a number of late challenges from both sides. Belarus attempt to force the issue as Martynovich slides a pass towards Dragun, but Ramos was always in control of the danger.

71 minSpain have upped the tempo since finding the back of the net, but they are still struggling to break through this stern Belarus defence, which has refused to be drawn out despite the opener. Kalachev has a slight problem moments later as he is caught in a challenge with Arbeloa, but the referee takes no action. Little under 20 minutes of football remaining in this Group I World Cup qualifier.

73 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Pedro chases a through pass from Xavi, but Gutor just manages to collect at the vital moment. It is almost like a training match for Spain at the moment as they continue to pass and probe outside the Belarus box. The only surprise is that the score is just 1-0 as we approach the final 15 minutes of action.

76 minIt would not be a surprise to see Spain make another change or two in the next few moments with the likes of Juan Mata and Jesus Navas both capable of causing problems in the final stages. They might be losing, but Belarus are not too worried about attacking at the moment. It appears they would rather lose 1-0 than open up and risk shipping goals in the final stages of this match.

78 minRamos takes matters into his own hands moments later as he finds some space down the left before delivering a low cross into the box, but Putsila manages to clear at the vital moment. Belarus make their second change in the next stoppage as Kornilenko replaces Putsila - who has put in a good shift this evening.

78 minGOAL! Spain 2-0 Belarus (Negredo)

79 minStunning, just stunning from the home side. It starts with Pedro, whose back-heel finds Ramos on the right, his cross is fired into the near post, where Negredo is on hand to score his ninth goal for Spain with a powerful header. That has secured all the points.

81 minIn truth, it had been coming. Belarus have defended very impressively this evening, but they have not been able to keep up that tempo in the last 10 minutes or so. Tigorev does threaten down the other end with a long distance strike moments later, but his effort was always moving high and wide of the crossbar.

83 minAnother change for the away side as Kislyak replaces Martynovich. Belarus can be pleased with their overall performance this evening, but they have not really worried Spain at any moment. It would not be a surprise to see the home side add another goal as they continue to dominate the possession in the latter stages.

86 minKislyak has a half-chance for the away side as he finds some space inside the box before attempting to find the bottom corner, but his effort never had enough power to worry Valdes. Spain make their second change of the evening moments later as the impressive Koke replaces Fabregas. Little under five minutes of football remaining in Mallorca.

88 minHalf-chance for Ramos as the Real Madrid defender finds some space outside the box before attempting to whip his effort into the bottom corner, but it was always moving wide of the post. The home side continue to press in the latter stages with Pique the only member of their defence that is refusing to move from his position.

89 minBelarus attempt to break down the left with Filipenko, but his cross is cleared by Arbeloa. Good spell for the away side as they pin Spain to the edge of their own box for a couple of moments, but eventually the move does break down. We are just about 30 seconds from the end of normal time here. Spain are moving three points clear at the top of Group I.

89 minGOAL! Spain 2-1 Belarus (Kornilenko)

90 minOh my word what a strike. Belarus open their tally for the evening as Kornilenko bursts beyond the Spanish defence before thumping a low effort into the bottom corner. Suddenly Spain are under a little bit of pressure.

90 min+2The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of football and we are indeed into the second of those. Belarus may have cut the deficit to 2-1, but they have not had the ball since with Spain keeping possession. It would be a surprise if the home side did not close this one out.

90 min+3FULL-TIME: Spain 2-1 Belarus

10.50pmSo there we have it. Far from comfortable for Spain, but they do pick up all the points. They need just a draw from Tuesday's clash with Georgia to book their spot in Brazil next summer. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to stick around the site for all the reaction from tonight's qualification clashes. Good evening!

Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque during the Confederations Cup against Italy on June 27, 2013
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