Pedri and Nico Williams celebrate for Spain. | Cati Cladera


Spain made all the other sides in this summer’s European championships, which start in Germany next Friday, sit up and take notice that they look to be a force to be reckoned with when, in front of an almost full Son Moix on Saturday night, they beat Northern Ireland 5-1.

Spain started this game not having lost a friendly on home soil since June 2016. A large vociferous Irish support were in raptures after just 66 seconds when a set piece free kick from wide on the right saw Sunderland’s Daniel Ballard loop a header past La Liga’s best goalkeeper Unai Simon to put the visitors into a shock 0-1 lead.

There is an unwritten law in Spanish football that if, in an international game, you score early in Spain against their national side, there’ll be all hell to pay, and so it came to pass. Ten minutes later Pedri carried the ball unchallenged from the halfway line before unleashing a worldy past Peacock in the Irish goal.

Spain’s oldest player, 38-year-old Jesus Navas from Sevilla, has made four world cup appearances and even in the twilight of his fabulous career his pinpoint crosses into the penalty box remain a joy to behold. In the 18th minute he put over a ball “on the money” which saw skipper Alvaro Morata head in the second via the post. Ten minutes later, Pedri belted in his second from distance as Spain opened the floodgates. Then PSG’s Fabian Ruiz poked home a Lamial cross from inside the six-yard box as the fans began a marathon Mexican wave that went into extra time of fully five minutes! This was a “wow” display from Spain in the first half.

In the second half, after a raft of changes, Spain took the foot off the gas, but not before Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal squeezed the ball into the net to make it 5-1. In two friendly internationals Spain have scored ten goals, which has considerably increased their chance of going far in the competition.