Spain clinches World Cup spot with win against Albania

Spain's Gerard Pique stands with his teammates before the World Cup Group G qualifying soccer match between Spain and Albania at the Rico Perez stadium in Alicante, Spain, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has defended Gerard Pique from critics who question his loyalty to the national team because of his support for a disputed referendum on Catalan independence. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

MADRID (AP) Spain easily defeated Albania 3-0 to secure a World Cup berth on Friday and outspoken defender Gerard Pique received a mixed reaction from home fans every time he touched the ball.

Rodrigo, Isco, and Thiago Alcantara scored first-half goals to give Spain an insurmountable five-point lead over Italy with one round to go in Group G of European qualifying.

Italy’s chances of winning the group ended with in a 1-1 draw against Macedonia in Turin, a result that secured second place for the Italians.

Israel won at Liechtenstein 1-0 in the other group match.

Spain will be making its 11th consecutive World Cup appearance.