It may be tense in Spain at the moment as the country is in the midst of the issues with Catalan independence but at least the national team in it’s current guise would have gone someway to lightening the mood on Friday night after they booked qualification to the World Cup next Summer.
A combination of their win over Albania and Italy’s failure to beat Macedonia at home meant that Spain have now got a five point gap at the top of Group G and cannot be caught with just a solitary game left in the qualification process.
Gerard Pique may have been jeered by the fans in attendance after voting for independence last week but that did little to put him off his stride and it would have had little effect for his team-mates either as they raced into a first half 3-0 lead.
Goals from Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago all before the half hour ended the game as a contest and the rest of the game was very much one sided as Albania struggled to get a foothold in the encounter. With three points all but wrapped up now all Spain had to do was wait and see what was going on in Italy.
It looked at one point as if Italy were to earn a home win and take matters to the final day after Giorgio Chiellini had put his side ahead with five minutes of the first half remaning. But Macedonia have consigned Italy to a likely play-off after Aleksandar Trajkovski leveled proceedings with 13 minutes to go.
Disaster for Italy as they will now have to wait for the other results across the course of the next three nights, including an away trip to Albania of their own. Nothing is certain yet so they need to make sure they can get maximum points on Monday night.
In the other group game, Israel edged past Liechtenstein in Vaduz with a 1-0 thanks to Eitan Tibi’s first half strike.
Here are all the goals from Friday night
Spain vs Albania
Italy vs Macedonia
Liechtenstein vs Israel