Spain U21 5-0 Macedonia U21: Celedes' side show credentials as Asensio bags three in thrashing

Spain have been tipped as one of the favourites to win the Under-21 European Championship, moulding an exciting outfit around hat-trick hero Marcos Asensio.

Spain U21 5-0 Macedonia U21: Celedes' side show credentials as Asensio bags three in thrashing
Marcos Asensio and Saul Niguez both netted technically sublime efforts (photo: Getty Images)
Spain
5 0
Macedonia
Spain: Kepa; Bellerin, Vallejo, Mere, Gaya; Saul, Suarez, Llorente; Asensio (Oyarzabal 81), Sandro (Williams 73), Deulofeu (Ceballos 62)
Macedonia: Aleksovski; Bejtulai, Zajkov, Velkoski, Demiri; Nikolov, Babunski (Kostadinov 76), Bardi; Radeski, Angelov (Elmas 46), Markoski (Gjorgjev 46)
SCORE: 1-0 Saul 10, 2-0 Asensio 14, 3-0 Deulofeu 33, 4-0 Asensio 55, 5-0 Asensio 72

Boasting a host of household names, Albert Celades' Spain cruised to victory with a comfortable victory over Macedonia as they began their hunt for another global crown.

Technical strike from Saul breaks the deadlock after open start to the contest

Both sides went into the match with an impressive recent form record, with Spain winning six of their last nine and Macedonia victorious in all of their last five without conceding a single goal. 

A fast tempo ignited the contest immediately as either side exchanged half chances. Spain dominated possession and looked to pick their way through their opposing defence, whilst Macedonia appeared to be capable of finding joy on the press.

Yet it was Spain's quality that opened the scoring in remarkable style. Jose Luis Gaya floated a cross from the left and found Saul Niguez who released an emphatic overhead kick that was mishandled by Igor Aleksovski who appeared to be surprised by the power that was unleashed.

However, Macedonia should have responded within minutes of conceding as a loose ball fell to Viktor Angelov in the Spain box but he could not find the desired power to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Asensio releases Goal of the Tournament contender

The underdogs were then made to pay almost immediately as Marcos Asensio showed why he is so highly rated by Real Madrid. After Gerard Deulofeu was thwarted by a goalline block, the ball was worked out to Asensio who manufactured a stunning strike into the top corner from range.

Although Macedonia continued to probe and were repeatedly blocked or subjected to efforts from distance, it was Asensio who looked most likely to score again. Twice he was kept out by Aleksovski who tipped one strike wide and another over the crossbar.

Despite the talented football on show, it was a mistake that created the third for Spain. Egzon Bejtulai handled in the box and Spain captain Deulofeu stepped up to convert the spot-kick.

Yet Macedonia refused to throw in the towel and finished the half with a flurry as Marjon Radeski shot a sparkling deflected effort just wide and Angelov was thwarted by Kepa. However, Spain were ominously showing signs of matching the achievements of their predecessors four years ago.

Asensio nets impressive hat-trick

Macedonia showed glimpses of their class again after half-time but became even more susceptible to the counter-attack. It took just ten minutes for Spain to take further advantage of the gaps appearing between the lines as Asensio grabbed his second with a deflected strike.

Whilst everything was falling for Spain, there was no such luck for their opponents. A well-worked corner fell to David Babunski who fired his effort into the ground and off the crossbar. Substitute Nikola Gjorgjev then flashed an effort just wide.

Spain were beginning to play with swagger and flair adopted within an increased tempo of passing. Yet it was a solo masterclass from Asensio that registered Spain's fifth as the midfielder drove forward from just inside his own half. As a sparse Macedonia defence backed off, Asensio released another fine drive that flew into the back of the net for his hat-trick.

The full-time whistle could not come soon enough for Macedonia who will reflect upon a scoreline that arguably did not reflect their quality within the game. Yet it was an impressive display by Asensio and his teammates but Spain are likely to face a tougher task when they take on their talented neighbours Portugal on Tuesday evening.

International Football