Spain on cusp of World Cup after win at Greece on Pablo Sarabia's goal

A penalty from Spain's Pablo Sarabia secured a 1-0 victory in their World Cup qualifier away to Greece on Thursday, meaning La Roja need a point from their showdown with Sweden at the weekend to secure a place at next year's World Cup finals.

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Sarabia's winner came in the 26th minute after Inigo Martinez was tripped following a corner. Sarabia's low strike found the net to the left of Odysseas Vlachodimos.

In a nearly empty Athens Olympic Stadium, Spain dominated with 70% possession and were never in danger of losing.

"We knew that we only depended on ourselves to qualify to the World Cup. We won the first game and now we need to do the same on Sunday against Sweden. With the players that Spain have, it's an obligation to be in Qatar," captain Koke told reporters.

With nine players missing due to injury, Spain coach Luis Enrique surprisingly left Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Cesar Azpilicueta out of his starting lineup.

Barcelona youngster Gavi did make the side and Espanyol forward Raul de Tomas was handed his debut in the absence of injured strikers Ferran Torres, Mikel Oyarzabal and Ansu Fati.

Spain's winner came after Dimitris Giannoulis fouled Inigo Martinez and Sarabia confidently converted the spot-kick.

Spain comfortably protected their lead in the second half as Greece struggled to create any clearcut chances.

After Sweden's surprise 2-0 defeat in Georgia, Spain lead Group B with 16 points, one ahead of the Swedes who they host on Sunday in their final group match.

"We are in a good situation. We had good news before we started this game [with Sweden's loss]. We deserved the win. In terms of attitude, my players did well and showed ambition. But it's difficult to play away from home and when you have pressure to get a result. I'm very happy," Luis Enrique said.

"Of course I believe that on Sunday we will get direct qualification to the World Cup. We are facing a team that had a good European Championship and have done well in qualifying. A draw against Sweden will be enough for us to qualify but I can assure you we will go out for the win."

Sweden must beat Spain in Seville to qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 while a draw would be enough for the Spanish to progress. The runners-up will head into the playoffs in March.