Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka’s erratic first-half performance – which included an absolute howler of an own goal – put Spain on their way to a 5-0 victory and safe passage into the last 16 of Euro 2020.
The Newcastle player had appeared set to frustrate the two-time champions with a penalty save from Alvaro Morata his best effort of a number in the opening half-hour.
However, he made a complete mess of dealing with Pablo Sarabia’s shot which rebounded off the crossbar – inexplicably punching it into his own net – before getting caught out of position to allow Aymeric Laporte to head home his first international goal just before the interval.
It made Spain’s life much easier than they would have anticipated and with Sarabia and Ferran Torres also on target and another own goal by Juraj Kucka, they finished runners-up in Group E to set up a meeting with Croatia in the first knockout round.
Slovakia kicked off needing a draw to progress but will now exit the tournament after a woeful display.
Under-fire Spain coach Luis Enrique’s continued loyalty to Morata was tested early on with the Atletico Madrid striker’s unconvincing penalty at an easy height for Dubravka to push away.
The spot-kick had been awarded after referee Bjorn Kuipers was advised by VAR to view on the pitchside monitor Jakub Hromada’s attempted clearance which hacked through the back of Koke.
It was Spain’s fifth successive miss – and second in the tournament – with the last player to score from the spot the unselected Sergio Ramos in September 2020.
With their brittle confidence shaken Sarabia, Pedri and Morata all had unconvincing attempts before Dubravka gifted them the opener.
Lubomir Satka’s reckless pass across the edge of his own penalty area went straight to Sarabia but when his shot rattled against the crossbar, Slovakia’s keeper misjudged his punch as he tried to tip the dropping ball over and patted it into his own net.
Dubravka’s evening did not get any better as when a corner was half-cleared he chased out of his goal to try to cut off Pedri’s pass but was drawn so far out of position Gerard Moreno was able to cross for Laporte to convert a header.
Their third and fourth goals were slightly more typical; Sarabia sweeping in first time from Jordi Alba’s cross and then turning provider for Torres to backheel home his first touch after replacing Morata in the 67th minute.
Kucka slicing into the net made it eight own goals at Euro 2020, one more than the previous five tournaments combined, as Spain registered five in a single European Championship match for the first time.
Meanwhile, Viktor Claesson struck a stoppage-time winner as Sweden beat Poland 3-2 in St Petersburg to finish top of Group E.
Sweden had led 2-0 through Emil Forsberg’s double before Robert Lewandowski’s second-half brace restored Poland’s hopes of progressing as one of the best third-placed teams.
But Krasnodar winger Claesson, a second-half substitute, held his nerve to slot home Sweden’s third in the fourth minute of added time.
Sweden will now play Ukraine, Czech Republic or Switzerland in Glasgow on Tuesday in the round of 16.
Sweden, who have progressed from their group at a Euro finals for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 2004, extended their unbeaten run in 2021 to eight matches.
They made a flying start, scoring from their first attack. Forsberg burst onto the ball after team-mate Alexander Isak had been tackled on the edge of the area and drilled an emphatic finish into the bottom corner.
Poland should have equalised in the 18th minute when Lewandowski, who scored a Bundesliga record of 41 goals this season, somehow missed after having two bites of the cherry.
The Bayern Munich striker headed Piotr Zielinski’s corner against the underside of the crossbar and after the ball bounced back to him, his second header also struck the crossbar before Sweden hacked it clear.
Poland began to get a foothold in the game and breached the Swedes’ yellow defensive wall just before half-time.
Napoli midfielder Zielinski combined well with Lewandowski and arrowed a shot towards the top corner, which was brilliantly saved by Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
Both goalkeepers made telling saves at the start of the second half. Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny kept out Robin Quaison’s shot and Olsen was at full stretch to keep out Grzegorz Krychowiak’s effort.
Poland were left a mountain to climb in the 59th minute when Forsberg struck his second for Sweden, first time from just inside the area, following a swift counter-attack.
But Poland hit back within two minutes through Lewandowski, who cut inside and curled a superb right-footed finish beyond Olsen.
A lengthy VAR check then denied Poland an equaliser for offside after Jakub Swierczok had tapped home from close range.
With time running out for Poland, impressive substitute Przemyslaw Frankowski’s cross picked out Lewandowski, who controlled and calmly slotted home to set up a grandstand finale.
It was Lewandowski’s 69th international goal in 122 appearances, but Claesson ended Poland’s hopes in added time after being set up by Dejan Kulusevski.