Albania 0-2 Spain: Diego Costa and Nolito take visitors top of World Cup qualifying Group G
- Spain defeated Albania to rise to the top of World Cup qualifier Group G
- Keeper Etrit Berisha denied Thiago Alcantara and Vitolo in the first half
- Chelsea striker Diego Costa opened scoring from David Silva pass
- Manchester City forward Nolito produced a clinical finish for the second
Spain's Diego Costa and Nolito scored second-half goals to seal a battling 2-0 win away to Albania on Sunday that moved them top of World Cup qualifying Group G on goal difference.
Chelsea striker Costa took advantage of a horrendous error by Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha in the 56th minute to break the deadlock in a tight game on a rainswept night in Shkoder before substitute Nolito finished off a slick team move in the 63rd.
Spain dominated possession but struggled to find a way through until Atalanta goalkeeper Berisha's misplaced pass landed at the feet of Vitolo, who quickly found David Silva to tee up Costa for an easy tap into an empty net.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the second half
Nolito (left) of Manchester City came on to double Spain's lead with a superb individual effort
Spain players celebrate as they moved above Albania to top of their World Cup qualifying group
ALBANIA: Berisha, Hysaj, Djimsiti, Mavraj, Agolli, Lila, Xhaka (Hyka), Memushaj (Basha), Roshi, Balaj, Lenjani (Aliji).
Subs: Shehi, Veseli, Cani, Llullaku, Kukeli, Cikalleshi, Grezda, Abrashi, Hoxha.
Booked: Agolli, Mavraj, Basha
SPAIN: de Gea, Koke, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Monreal, Vitolo (Nolito), Iniesta (Isco), Busquets, Silva, Thiago, Costa.
Subs: Sergio Rico, Carvajal, Nacho, Morata, Callejon, Ander Herrera, Sergi Roberto, Martinez, Vazquez, Reina.
Goals: Costa 55', Nolito 63'
Referee: Bas Nijhus (Holland)
With the wind finally in their sails after a frustrating first half, Spain turned on the style and doubled the lead when Manchester City signing Nolito curled Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal's cut back into the far corner.
Spain captain and Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos limped off with 10 minutes remaining suffering from a suspected knee injury, the one negative of a satisfying night for Julen Lopetegui's side.
Spain top the group with seven points due to a better goal difference than Italy,. Albania stayed on six points and slipped from first to third.
Italy's Ciro Immobile scored twice in the last 15 minutes to earn a 3-2 win away to Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday after the four-times champions were on the brink of a humiliating defeat.
And Israel has earlier beaten Lichtenstein 2-1 in Jerusalem in Group G's other game.
Andres Iniesta is pressed by Odise Roshi (left) as Albania employ spoiling tactics from the start
Brazil-born Costa (centre) was selected to lead Spain's line at the Loro Borici Stadium
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique stretches for an attempted shot as Spain dominate
Spain forward Vitolo (right) carries out an aerial battle with Albania's Ermir Lenjani
Koke (centre) slides in as the visitors struggle to break through Albania's stubborn defence
Albania keeper Etrit Berisha made a string of important saves to deny Spain in the first half
Sergio Busquets (second right) shields the ball under pressure from Albania players
New Spain manager Julen Lopetegui watches his side struggle to break the deadlock
Thiago Alcantara, who came close to opening the scoring, plays a pass as Spain up the anti
Manchester City playmaker David Silva (right) played an unselfish pass for Costa to score
Costa celebrates scoring the opening goal with Spain captain Sergio Ramos
Spain substitute Nolito is crowded by team-mates after adding his side's second
Most watched Sport videos
- Arturo Vidal scores impossible goal during training
- Bradford goalkeeper Colin Doyle substituted after three minutes
- Sky Sports viewer captures moment Klopp told off for swearing
- 'New Messi?': Celtic youth's 12 year old Karamoko Dembele
- Karamoko Dembele in action at the St Kevin's Boys Academy Cup 2016
- Arturo Vidal scores a brace for Chile during Copa America
- Jesse Lingard welcomes Paul Pogba to Manchester United
- Pep Guardiola speaks post match after Man City Spurs loss
- Pep Guardiola says Toure won't play until agent apologises
- Where's Spurs? Klopp has a map of the English clubs in his office
- Hilarious moment Jesse Lingard nearly breaks golf club
- Clashes erupt among fans after West Ham clash with Middlesbrough