Granada: Aritz Aduriz became the oldest man to score for Spain in an international, netting the final goal in their 4-0 victory over Macedonia in the World Cup qualifying Group G match on Saturday.
At 35 years and 275 days, the Athletic Bilbao striker was 50 days older than the previous record holder Jose Maria Pena, who had set the mark in 1930 when scoring against Portugal. Spain had to overcome resistance from a dogged Macedonia side before running out easy winners with a strong second-half display to remain top of the group.
An own goal by Darko Velkovski broke the deadlock at the Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada in the 34th minute after Julen Lopetegui’s side survived a couple of early scares, and Vitolo doubled the lead in the 63rd. Nacho Monreal and substitute Aduriz struck in the space of a minute late on to turn what at times was a testing encounter game into a thrashing.
Spain top the group on 10 points, level with second-placed Italy, who won 4-0 at Liechtenstein on Saturday. Macedonia’s preparations were hit right before the game as goalkeeper Igor Aleksovski got injured in the warm up. He was replaced by Stole Dimitrievski, although it was his opposite number David de Gea who made the first intervention, repelling a close range header from Daniel Mojsov.
Spain were let off the hook again in the first half when Genoa forward Goran Pandev glanced a header wide, although the home side monopolied possession and soon settled into the game. Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata was thwarted twice by Dimitrievski and David Silva had a goalbound shot headed off the line.
Spain owed their breakthrough to a mishap from Velkovski, who tried to glance Dani Carvajal’s cross over the bar but instead nodded past Dimitrievski and into the top corner of his own net. Spain defender Marc Bartra nearly gifted an equaliser away at the start of the second half with a misplaced pass to Enis Bardhi but made amends by blocking the midfielder’s shot.
Julen Lopetegui’s side tightened their grip on the game when Vitolo arrived at the far post to head in from close range, aided by sloppy goalkeeping from Dimitrievski. That effectively signalled the end of Macedonia’s resistance, and Monreal and Aduriz showed no remorse. The Arsenal defender curled Carvajal’s cutback into the bottom corner in the 84th minute and a moment later Aduriz grabbed the fourth, turning in Silva’s low cross from close range.