Spain qualifies for 2018 World Cup by beating Albania, topping Group G

Spain is heading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup after Julen Lopetegui’s side defeated Albania 3-0 on Friday, and that result, plus Italy‘s 1-1 draw with Macedonia, guarantees La Furia Roja a top-spot finish in Group G with one match remaining.

As it stands, Spain sits atop the group with 25 points, five more points than the Italians who sit in second. Third-placed Albania has 13 points and can no longer catch the Azzurri, but Italy is still fighting to secure a play-off spot, which does not necessarily coincide with finishing second as only eight of the nine second-placed teams get to contest that final round of qualifying.

The result is a shock for Italy, as Macedonia’s Aleksandar Trajkovski scored a 77th-minute equaliser to cancel out Giorgio Chiellini 40th-minute opener. That draw meant Spain qualified early off the back of a comprehensive showing against the Albanians that saw Rodrigo, Isco, and Thiago Alcantara all find the back of the net within the first half-hour of play.

Spain is now the 11th nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, which will take place in Russia. …read more