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Spain rout Northern Ireland in friendly

Spain rout Northern Ireland in friendly

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-fire Spain hit back from conceding a shock opener to complete a 5-1 friendly rout of an outclassed Northern Ireland side in their final Euro 2024 warm-up match in Palma.

There were only 66 seconds on the clock when Daniel Ballard rose to loop a header into the net to stun a sweltering Estadi Mallorca Son Moix, but Luis de la Fuente's fast-moving side recovered quickly from shipping the first goal as Pedri equalised on 12 minutes with a lovely long-range strike.

Alvaro Morata headed Spain 2-1 in front on 18 minutes, with Barcelona midfielder Pedri then finishing off a slick passing move for his second on 29 minutes before Fabian Ruiz converted the fourth six minutes later.

Substitute Mikel Oyarzabal added a fifth on the hour to give the scoreline a truer reflection of the gulf in class between the sides amid the usual rash of second-half substitutions.

It completed an impressive night for the three-time European champions, who begin their Euro 2024 campaign against Croatia in Group B in Berlin on Saturday afternoon in a section that also contains defending champions Italy and Albania.