Slovakia 2 Spain 1
Miroslav Stoch headed a dramatic late winner as Slovakia claimed a shock 2-1 victory over champions Spain in their Euro 2016 qualifier in Zilina.
Substitute Paco Alcacer looked to have claimed a draw for a frustrated Spanish side when he cancelled out Juraj Kucka’s free-kick eight minutes from time.
But the hosts roused themselves for a strong finish and Stoch headed home a fine cross from substitute Michal Duris to win the game and end Spain’s eight-year, 36-game unbeaten qualifying run.
Spain will feel they let victory slip after spurning numerous chances but captain Iker Casillas made a huge error for Slovakia’s opener and the hosts proved resilient thereafter.
Slovakia had a good chance after 11 minutes when Peter Pekarik broke down the right and pulled back for Robert Mak but his first-time shot was beaten away by Casillas.
Diego Costa should have put Spain ahead when he headed wide moments later but Slovakia remained the more positive side.
They were rewarded as Kucka struck after 17 minutes but the goal almost had as much to do with Casillas’ misjudgement as his powerful shot.
Casillas, Spain’s inspirational captain throughout their recent golden era of success, was completely deceived by a strike which swerved only slightly on its way into the centre of the goal.
The error is likely to increase calls for Manchester United’s in-fom keeper David De Gea to be given a chance.
Spain threatened an equaliser after 21 minutes but Raul Albiol fired over after a goalmouth scramble and Costa had a penalty appeal rejected after clashing with Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel.
Costa, who has already scored nine times after a blistering start to the season with new club Chelsea, had a header brilliantly saved by Matus Kozacik on the stroke of half-time. The keeper then reacted quickly to keep out Sergio Busquets’ follow-up.
Spain upped the tempo after the break but Kozacik again frustrated them, saving routinely from David Silva and then superbly from Cesc Fabregas after good work by Busquets. Costa beat two defenders to create a chance but Kozacik again saved.
Spain continued to dominate possession but looked to be running out of ideas when Alcacer brilliantly controlled a cross from Jordi Alba and rifled in a shot.
Spain might have then fancied their chances of claiming victory but it was Slovakia who finished the stronger and Stoch was in the right place as Duris combined with Marek Hamsik and whipped in a dangerous cross.