Spain make light work of Kosovo despite goalkeeping gaffe

·3-min read

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Spain secured a convincing 3-1 home win over Kosovo in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, although goalkeeper Unai Simon made a huge blunder to cost his side a goal.

Dani Olmo gave Spain a deserved lead in the 34th minute with a delicate chip to add to his winner against Georgia in their last game and Ferran Torres fired in the second goal two minutes later.

Spain looked in total control as they dominated possession but they allowed Kosovo back into the game in the 70th minute when Simon lost the ball after rushing out of his box and Besar Halimi pounced to score from distance.

The home side restored their two-goal cushion five minutes later though thanks to a header from Gerard Moreno and saw out the win to move top of Group B with seven points after three games.

"I'm very happy with what I saw on the pitch today, we played a great game and our victory was never in doubt," Spain coach Luis Enrique told reporters.

Spain had faced plenty of criticism for their sluggish start to qualifying after a 1-1 home draw with Greece and a scrappy 2-1 victory in Georgia, after which Luis Enrique said he was very worried about his side's struggles to break down tight teams intent on defending.

Practically everything clicked into place on Wednesday though, as 18-year-old Pedri pulled the strings in midfield while Ferran and Olmo used their pace to help prise open Kosovo.

After Olmo's sumptuous chip had broken the deadlock, Pedri laid on the pass for Ferran to double Spain's lead with a darting run before firing into the opposite corner of the net.

RUTHLESS IN FRONT OF GOAL

Midfielder Koke added: "We were ruthless in front of goal today but we need to keep on working because there's a lot of room to improve.

"We know people expect a lot of us but there are no easy games at this level, every team wants to be at the World Cup and no-one is winning games comfortably."

Playing with flair and confidence that recalled a young Andres Iniesta, Pedri carved open the visitors again in the second half and would have added another assist had Moreno not wasted a clear opportunity by shooting straight at Kosovo keeper Samir Ujkani.

The only sour note for Spain concerned Simon, whose error will start another debate over who should be their number one keeper in the European Championships in June.

The mistake came at a crucial stage in the season for Athletic Bilbao keeper Simon, who is set to play in the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad on Saturday.

"Unai should keep doing what he does because he gives me a lot of confidence. I don't judge my players for their errors, they are part of this sport. Learning to overcome little mistakes is all part of growing as a player," Luis Enrique said.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)