Shocker! Slovakia beat defending champs Spain in Euro 2016 qualifiers
Slovakia stunned defending Euro champions Spain 2-1 in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Zilina, Slovakia on Thursday (Oct 9).
This marks Spain's first qualifying defeat since 2006, after former Chelsea midfielder Miroslav Stoch struck three minutes from time.
Slovakia now top qualifying Group C after this famous victory against the 2010 World Cup winners.
Spain had appeared to salvage a draw through Paco Alcacer’s strike eight minutes from time, after trailing most of the match from a 17 mins a free-kick from Slovakia Juraj Kucka’s.
Slovakia showed no early fear against their illustrious opponents and could have taken the lead after 11 minutes.
Captain Marek Hamsik played right-back Peter Pekarik into space and his cross was met on the volley by Robert Mak, but Iker Casillas made a stunning save one-handedly to deny him.
The reprieve was short, though, as Real Madrid’s Casillas quickly went from hero to villain.
Kucka’s free-kick swerved, deceived Casillas, who seemed to move out of the way before getting only a faint touch as it flew down the middle of the goal.
Spain started the second period brightly and produced an identical move to Slovakia’s at the start of the game, this time Kozacik saving one-handed from Fabregas. Moments later Costa ran purposefully at goal and unleashed a low strike that forced Kozacik into another stop.
Spain seemed to be running out of steam when suddenly, with eight minutes left, they equalised.
Paco Alcacer (R) of Spain celebrates his goal against Slovakia with team mate Diego Costa. Photo: Reuters
There was more than a suspicion of offside about it but substitute Alcacer controlled Jorge Alba’s ball over the top and fired confidently past Kozacik with the Slovakian defence desperately looking at the linesman.
Yet Al Ain’s Stoch – now plying his trade in Abu Dhabi having fallen a long way since his heady Premier League days – had the last word.
Slovakia launched a classic, rapier counter-attack as Hamsik played substitute Michal Duris down the inside right channel to cross for fellow replacement Stoch to head home at the back post with Spain’s rearguard stretched.
“I definitely didn’t expect this result, it was unexpected,” said Del Bosque, who refused to blame his players.
“We should have scored more goals but we got hit with a deadly counter.
“This is football, we can’t reproach the players. We were patient but we didn’t manage to finish it off and their goalkeeper was outstanding.”
He added: “It’s our first defeat in 28 qualifying matches. We drew level but then couldn’t respond to their last move.
“I think we deserved at least a draw, I don’t think we’re in a negative dynamic.”
Related report: Del Bosque after shock defeat: Spain not on downward spiral