Isco helps Spain to easy 3-0 win over Belarus in Euro qualifying
HUELVA, Spain (AP) — Francisco "Isco" Alarcon scored early to spark Spain's placid 3-0 win over Belarus in a European Championship qualifier on Saturday.
Slovakia's 2-0 victory at Macedonia kept it on top of Group C with 12 points, while Ukraine stayed level with Spain on nine points after Andriy Yarmolenko scored a hat trick in a 3-0 win at Luxembourg.
With Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas injured, Isco made a strong argument to form part of coach Vicente del Bosque's remodeling project as Spain looks to defend its European title in 2016.
Isco curled in a long strike to open the scoring in the 18th minute. Sergio Busquets made it 2-0 a minute later, and Pedro Rodriguez scored in the 55th.
Jose Callejon and Alvaro Morata debuted for Spain as second-half substitutes.
Macedonia was left with three points. Belarus and Luxembourg remained with one point each.
Isco's dribbling and passing evoked the incisiveness usually provided by Iniesta, as the Real Madrid midfielder took charge of Spain's attack from the start.
With Spain playing with the most verve since before its disappointing World Cup, Isco put the hosts on their way with a superb right-footed strike just inside the corner of the goal frame after fellow youngster Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion had recovered possession near Belarus' area.
Busquets quickly made it 2-0 when Juanfran Torres' pass was deflected for the Barcelona midfielder to fire in a low strike off a defender from outside the box.
Spain didn't miss striker Diego Costa either, with Pedro scoring moments after striker Paco Alcacer headed his cross into the side netting.
Pedro got his goal after Juanfran worked a one-two passing combination with Santi Cazorla before setting up the forward to fire past goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov. Pedro hit the post in the 89th.
Andrey Zygmantovich, a former Racing Santander player, made his debut as Belarus coach.
Slovakia went in front at Macedonia through Juraj Kucka in the 25th from a cross by Vladimir Weiss. Adam Nemec added a second goal in the 38th.
Yarmolenko gave Ukraine the lead in the 33rd after Luxembourg couldn't clear a corner kick. The Dinamo Kiev attacking midfielder curled another left-footed strike past goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert in the 53rd before adding a third goal three minutes later with a long-range shot.