Silva, Costa keep Spain in lead of WCup qualifying group

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) Spain needed two flashes of brilliance to beat Macedonia 2-1 and stay top of its World Cup qualifying group on Sunday.

David Silva opened the scoring for Spain for the fourth straight match before Diego Costa hit what proved to be the winner before the half-hour mark.

But credit for both goals must be shared with playmakers Andres Iniesta and Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon.

Iniesta cued Silva's 15th-minute strike when he timed his chipped pass to meet Jordi Alba's run into Macedonia's box. Alba quickly centered the ball to Silva, who added his touch of class by turning past his marker and wrong-footing the `keeper as he rolled the ball home.

Isco topped that by deftly shifting the ball from his right to left boot to avoid a tackle and leave his defender behind, before crossing for Diego Costa to tap in his team-high fifth goal in qualifying.

Macedonia had not tested David de Gea until Stefan Ristovski launched a rare counterattack that he ended by smashing the ball inside the near corner in the 66th.

While Spain momentarily wavered, it controlled the final minutes of the match to secure the points.

''We are happy with the three points,'' Spain defender Sergio Ramos said. ''We knew it wouldn't be easy, they were pressing us the entire second half. Now we can rest.''

Spain improved its unbeaten record in World Cup qualifiers to 59 consecutive matches, a run that stretches back to 1993.

Spain remained in the lead of Group G, level on 16 points with Italy, its next opponent in Madrid in September.

Macedonia was left with three points, immediately above bottom side Liechtenstein which has no points.

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ITALY 5, LIECHTENSTEIN 0

Lorenzo Insigne and Andrea Belotti both scored and set up goals for teammates to help Italy ease past Liechtenstein in Udine.

Insigne broke through in the 35th when he controlled the ball with his chest and volleyed the ball in off the post.

Insigne created Italy's second goal in the 52nd, passing for Belotti to curl in a shot.

Belotti assisted Eder to make it 3-0 before Federico Bernardeschi and Manolo Gabbiadini rounded off the rout.

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ISRAEL 0, ALBANIA 3

Albania forward Armando Sadiku scored twice from distance in the first half to give Albania a 2-0 lead in Haifa.

Ledian Memushaj added a third for Albania on a counterattack in the 71st.

The win moved Albania level with Israel on nine points.

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