Football: Shock 2-1 defeat for Spain in Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovakia

Slovakia's Miroslav Stoch celebrates his wnning goal to 2-1 during Euro 2016 qualifing football match between Slovakia and Spain in northern Slovak town of Zilina on Oct 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Slovakia's Miroslav Stoch celebrates his wnning goal to 2-1 during Euro 2016 qualifing football match between Slovakia and Spain in northern Slovak town of Zilina on Oct 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

ZILINA, Slovakia (REUTERS) - Holders Spain crashed to a shock defeat after substitute Miroslav Stoch nodded a late goal to earn Slovakia a 2-1 victory in Euro 2016 Group C qualifying on Thursday.

A powerful, swerving free kick from Juraj Kucka in the 17th minute that deceived goalkeeper Iker Casillas put the hosts ahead and Spain struggled to find a way past inspired home goalkeeper Matus Kozacik despite dominating possession.

Substitute Paco Alcacer levelled eight minutes from time but any hopes the visitors had of snatching a winner were shattered when Stoch headed past Casillas in the 87th.

Slovakia, who won 1-0 in Ukraine in their opening qualifier last month, top the group on a maximum six points and Spain have three after they began their campaign with a 5-1 win at home to Macedonia.

The home team made a bright start at the MSK stadium in Zilina and Casillas had to conjure a brilliant reaction save to keep out Robert Mak's 11th-minute volley.

Diego Costa nodded a Cesc Fabregas centre narrowly wide two minutes later before Kucka struck.

Spain came close to an equaliser at a corner moments before the break when Kozacik denied first Costa and then Sergio Busquets with a pair of fine saves and the Slovakia players were given a standing ovation as they trooped off.

The champions pressed hard at the start of the second period and Fabregas and Costa went close as they tried to break through the massed Slovak ranks.

Coach Vicente del Bosque threw on Pedro and Alcacer to try to add extra zip to the Spain attack and although the visitors thought they had secured at least a point when Alcacer scored, there was still time for Stoch to strike.