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Northern Ireland’s three-match unbeaten run ended with a 5-1 defeat to Spain at the Son Moix Stadium.

Michael O’Neill’s side took the lead in just the second minute of the game through Daniel Ballard’s header, but the hosts’ quality was evident throughout the game, particularly in the first half when they scored four times.  On a night when 16-year-old Barcelona forward Lamine Yamal impressed again, Spain levelled the game through Pedri just 10 minutes after falling behind. Goals from Alvaro Morata, Pedri and Fabian Ruiz put Spain 4-1 up at the break, with substitute Mikel Oyarzabal scoring the only goal of the second half.

Luis de la Fuente’s side now turn their full attention to Euro 2024, whose campaign kicks off against Croatia on June 15. In the box to meet a teasing delivery and curled his header over Unai Simon. Northern Ireland’s lead lasted only 10 minutes and as expected the Spanish side monopolised the ball. O’Neill’s side have made the most of the limited ball during their recent improved performances, particularly against Scotland last time out, but there was no way of easing the pressure here. Spain repeatedly regained the ball quickly high up the field, they pushed their full-backs so far forward at times that it felt like they were only playing Nacho and Robin Le Normand behind. This caused many problems for Northern Ireland and, while their equalising goal came when Rodri was given too much space in midfield and he struck the ball into the.

They went 2-1 ahead in the 19th minute when Jesus Navas produced a superb cross from the right for Morata who was headed home through the post and doubled their lead 10 minutes later when the dangerous Nico Williams cleared the ball clear from the opposite wing and pulled it back for Pedri. Five minutes later, Yamal turned and swung before measuring a superb ball for Ruiz in the Northern Ireland box.

Northern Ireland should have reduced the deficit before the break as Simon was able to stop Shea Charles’ effort from the edge of the box before Isaac Price scored when Jamie Reid turned back the rebound. However, Northern Ireland believed they should have been awarded a free-kick when Price was fouled by Yamal before the ball went into the net.

The officials found nothing wrong with the challenge and Yamal’s pull back gave substitute Oyarzabal the chance to tap-in at the front post, following his hat-trick against Andorra earlier in the week.

With their first match of Euro 2024 approaching, it was perhaps understandable that the intensity shown by Spain in the first half was noticeably less in the second, with Bailey Peacock-Farrell having less to do as the game wore on.

In fact, it was Northern Ireland who could have scored the next goal, when Price had another chance, this time found by Dale Taylor, but the Standard Liege player was denied this time by Simon.

Ballard later failed to find the right connection from another dangerous set-piece but it was Joselu who had the last real chance of the game, shooting over the bar from ten yards.

While Spain remain among the favourites for Euro 2017, the Northern Ireland players will have another opportunity to end their season on a high when they face Andorra in Murcia on Tuesday night.