World champions Spain ensured they will get the chance to defend their crown at the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil next year with a 2-0 win over Georgia on Tuesday. Victory means Spain finish Group I three points clear of France and continue their remarkable record of not having lost a World Cup qualifier for over 20 years.
Needing just a point to advance, Alvaro Negredo settled any nerves with his fourth goal in five internationals this season midway through the first-half. And substitute Juan Mata sealed the three points with virtually his first touch of the ball 15 minutes after the interval.
Vicente del Bosque had shown his discontent with Friday's unconvincing 2-1 win over Belarus by making six changes to his starting line-up.
The return of captain Iker Casillas in goal and an international debut for Alberto Moreno at left-back were the most significant changes, but all those who came in made a positive impact in a much more vibrant display.
Negredo had a great chance to open the scoring when Giorgi Loria spilled Pedro Rodriguez's cross, but the keeper recovered well to make a brave block at the Manchester City striker's feet. Jesus Navas also ought to have done better when he skewed well wide from local hero Andres Iniesta's low cross.
However, the waves of Spanish attacks continued and the opener arrived on 25 minutes as Moreno, Pedro and Iniesta combined before the latter squared for Negredo to prod home his ninth international goal at the near post.
Georgia then had their first opening of the match as Nikoloz Gelashvili accelerated past Sergio Ramos, but his fiercely hit effort was parried by Casillas and Aleksandr Kobakhidze's follow-up effort sailed over.
Negredo should have had his second of the evening before the break when he struck the outside of the post when it seemed easier to score after being set up by more excellent wing play from Navas.
However, any doubt over the final outcome was erased on the hour mark when Mata volleyed home a loose ball inside the area just minutes after replacing Pedro.
Del Bosque then took the opportunity to introduce the promising Koke and Isco with an eye to his plans for next summer. Navas fired over from a lovely Mata cross and Negredo saw a headed effort well held by a flying Loria as Spain continued to threaten.
No more goals were to arrive, but Spain comfortably saw the game out to book their place in South America as they hope to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup.