UPDATED: Spain qualify for 2018 World Cup

October 6, 2017

Spain secured their place at the World Cup finals in Russia next year as goals from Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago Alcantara ensured a comfortable 3- win over Albania from a match laced with political tension on Friday.

La Roja shrugged off the distractions of a turbulent week off the field caused by Catalonia’s drive for independence, and more jeers for outspoken defender Gerard Pique, to seal top spot in Group G of European qualifying after Italy could manage only a 1-1 draw at home to Macedonia.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was greeted with a mixture of jeers and applause on his 92nd international appearance just days after voting in a referendum on Catalan independence deemed illegal by the Spanish government and blighted by police violence.

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Four-time World Cup winners Italy are destined for the November play-offs after Macedonian substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski’s 77th-minute equaliser cancelled out a first-half goal by veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Serbia missed out on a chance to wrap up qualification from Group D with a match to spare as Louis Schaub struck a minute from time to give Austria victory in Vienna.

Serbia, who could have sealed a spot in Russia with the victory, led through an early Luka Milivojevic goal but fell behind as Austria replied through efforts from Guido Burgstaller and Marko Arnautovic.

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic had levelled on 83 minutes before Schaub’s winner, but Serbia can still advance by defeating Georgia in their final qualifier in Belgrade on Monday.

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AFP

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