- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

BORISOV, Belarus (AP) - David Silva scored to give Spain a 1-0 win against Belarus in coach Vicente del Bosque’s 100th match in charge on Sunday, as the two-time defending champion moved closer to qualifying for Euro 2016.

Silva rewarded Spain’s strong first-half performance with a goal just before the break, but Iker Casillas had to protect Spain’s advantage with timely saves in the second half.

It was Spain’s 78th victory, to go with eight draws and 14 losses, since Del Bosque took over in August 2008.

“It’s been a long road and we have seen everything, the good and the bad,” Del Bosque said, alluding to Spain’s world and European titles under his watch, as well as last year’s flop at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“Let’s see if what awaits us in the future is good.”

Spain remained in second place in Group C, three points behind leader Slovakia after its 2-1 win over Macedonia.

Slovakia made it six wins in as many qualifiers, while Ukraine beat Luxembourg 3-0 to stay in third place, three points adrift of Spain. Belarus was left on four points, ahead of Macedonia with three and Luxembourg with one.

Only Spain’s poor finishing kept the visitors from going ahead earlier in Borisov.

Pedro Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas all sent shots into the arms of goalkeeper Andrei Gorbunov, who also saw Jordi Alba’s strike just miss the corner of this net in the 32nd.

Alvaro Morata earned a free kick that led to Spain’s breakthrough in the 45th. Gorbunov left his line in a vain attempt to reach Fabregas’ cross to the far post for Silva, who smashed the ball in off a defender.

Overwhelmed in the first half, Belarus forced Spain to work to hold onto the three points.

Casillas used his left boot to block Belarus’ first chance for Sergei Kornilenko after Aleksandr Hleb set him up in the 49th.

Maksim Bordachev made the home fans groan when he squandered a shot from inside the box shortly before Casillas parried Ivan Maevski effort from long range in the 62nd.

In Zilina, Kornel Salata started in place of injured defender Jan Durica and soon made his mark by heading in Slovakia’s eighth-minute opener.

Marek Hamsik made it 2-0 in the 38th before Arijan Ademi pulled one back for Macedonia in the 69th.

After a long break, Spain will host Slovakia on Sept. 5 in a match that could decide the group winner.

“Our thoughts are now on Slovakia,” Del Bosque said. “That is when the door will open to the Euro Cup. Slovakia hasn’t let up and Ukraine has 12 points. We can’t afford a stumble.”

In Lviv, Ukraine eased past Luxembourg after a scoreless first half, with goals from Artem Kravets, Denys Garmash and Yevhen Konoplyanka.

The top two teams of the nine groups and the best third-place finisher qualify for the final phase of the tournament in France next summer. Another eight teams enter through a playoff round.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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