All three goals were scored in the first-half before the half-hour mark by Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago Alcántara, as Spain joined the league of qualified teams for the 32-team showpiece. "We know that he's very important for us on the pitch", said national team-mate Isco, scorer of Spain's second against Albania.
Pique was jeered by fans following his public support for the right of the Catalonians to vote over independence in the wake of the controversial referendum in the region. And with Italy only playing out a draw with Macedonia, La Roja are now assured a spot in next year's tournament as Group G winners.
"We had to concentrate exclusively on football", coach Julen Lopetegui told Spanish TV station Teledeporte. By including veterans that had been out of contention for some time, such as Pepe Reina and David Villa, he showed that the door to the national team is always open to anyone. It ended 1-1, which was only good enough to guaeantee a place in the playoffs. Brilliant performances of the Spanish team brought them an easy 3 points for the victory with a score of 3: 0, as well as the opportunity to grab a single line.
Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic had levelled on 83 minutes before Schaub's victor, but Serbia can still advance by defeating Georgia in their final qualifier in Belgrade on Monday. Tom Lawrence scored for the Welsh side with Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey the provider.
The centre-back received the same treatment from his first touch at Estadio Jose Rico Perez, but was later brought off predominantly to applause in the second half. We ask for there to be a good atmosphere and for the fans to enjoy the game. "We are all united on one aim, which is the game against Albania and to take another step towards the World Cup".
Spain have a terrific 35-3 scoring record during the campaign, conceding only against Italy, in their 4-1 win over Israel and a tougher than expected 2-1 win in Macedonia.
Ukraine are level on 17 points with Croatia following a 2-0 win away to Kosovo and host the Croats in Kiev on Monday.