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Spain 5 Northern Ireland 1

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Northern Ireland’s three-game unbeaten run came to an end with a comprehensive 5-1 defeat by Spain at the Son Moix Stadium.

Michael O’Neill’s side had taken the lead through a Daniel Ballard header in only the second minute of the game, but the quality of their hosts was evident throughout, most notably in a first half when they found the net four times.

On a night when 16-year-old Barcelona forward Lamine Yamal again impressed, Spain would level the game through Pedri just 10 minutes after falling behind.

Goals from Alvaro Morata, another from Pedri and Fabián Ruiz had Spain 4-1 up at the break, with substitute Mikel Oyarzabal adding the only goal of the second half.

Luis de la Fuente’s squad now turn their attention fully to Euro 2024, with their campaign beginning on 15 June against Croatia.

The game would represent an international debut for St Mirren midfielder Caolan Boyd-Munce and it was his delivery that found the head of Ballard for Northern Ireland’s opener.

There were just 69 seconds on the clock when the Sunderland defender rose in the box to meet the teasing delivery and arched his header over Unai Simon, the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball but unable to stop it finding his net.

Northern Ireland’s lead would last just 10 minutes with the Spanish side, as expected, monopolising the ball.

O’Neill’s side have made the most of limited ball during their recent improved form, most especially against Scotland last time out, but here there was simply no way to relieve the pressure.

With Spain regathering the ball quickly high up the field time and time again, they would push their full-backs so far forward at times it looked as if they were playing only Nacho and Robin le Normand at the back.

That would create plenty of problems for Northern Ireland down the flanks and, while their equaliser came when Rodri was afforded too much space in midfield and fired into the corner from 25 yards, it was from wide deliveries where Spain looked most dangerous.

Source – Spain show their class to beat Northern Ireland – BBC Sport