A Marco Asensio inspired Spain got their European Under 21 Championship off to the perfect start with a 5-0 win against Macedonia.
In the end, the victory was as comfortable as the scoreline suggests however it was Macedonia who started the brighter of the two sides, forcing Spain onto the back foot right from the first whistle, creating a couple of half chances too.
Despite that, it was Spain who broke the deadlock with their first attack of the game. José Gayà with the cross from the left and Saúl Ñíguez met it with a sublime overhead kick which the Macedonia goalkeeper was unable to keep out.
Macedonia wouldn’t lie down however and really should have equalised just moments later. The ball broke kindly to Viktor Angelov in the area but he was unable to connect properly allowing Kepa in the Spain goal to grab the ball.
Just minutes later and he would rue that miss as Asensio grabbed the first of his 3 goals, picking the ball up 25 yards from goal he took a touch before curling a sublime effort into the top right hand corner of the net.
Macedonia kept attacking the Spanish back line but it left them open to the counter and after 35 minutes it was 3. Gayà’s cross hit the outstretched arm of Egzon Bejtulai and the referee pointed to the spot with Gerard Deulofeu slotting home the penalty.
La Roja began to dominate the game a bit more in the second period and just nine minutes into the second half they had goal number four. Asensio picking the ball up on the left hand side of the box before finding the far corner via a slight deflection.
To their credit, Macedonia didn’t give up and just moments after Asensio’s goal, they almost pulled one back. Captain David Babunski firing a volley against the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Spain were able to just play possession football for the remainder of the game but they still found time for one more goal on 72 minutes and it was another fantastic finish. Asensio ran with the ball and had options on both sides but instead he opted for the shot which fizzed past Igor Aleksovski into the top corner of the net to complete the Real Madrid youngster’s hat-trick.
Next up for Spain is a much tougher test against 2015 runners up Portugal, who had beaten Serbia 2-0 earlier in the day, on Tuesday in a game which could define who wins the group.