David de Gea continued his remarkable return to form since his move to Real Madrid from Manchester United fell through, producing a match-winning display as Spain ended their European Championship qualifying campaign with victory over Ukraine. Having already qualified for next summer's finals after a victory over Luxembourg, Mario Gaspar scored the only goal in Kiev but De Gea produced the stand-out display of the 90 minutes.
De Gea played in just three of Spain's 10 qualifying matches but his performance in the Ukrainian capital raises hopes he may be favoured ahead of Iker Casillas for Euro 2016 next summer.
Either side of Gaspar heading into an empty net from Thiago Alcantara's cross in the first half, De Gea kept Ukraine at bay with a string of fine saves. The United keeper saved from Artem Kravets' near-post effort and Ruslan Rotan's volley before Spain opened the scoring, which they were unable to double after Cesc Fabregas – winning his 100th international cap – was denied by Andriy Pyatov from the penalty spot.
Kravets was denied again before the break as De Gea turned his close-range effort behind, before from the subsequent corner Tarax Stepanenko's header was beaten away. After half-time, De Gea and Spain survived Andriy Yarmolenko striking the post prior to Denys Marmash's header being tipped over and Serhiy Rybalka's drive being saved.
"The whole team had a great match," the United stopper told TVE after the 1-0 win, according to Goal.com. "We knew we were coming to a very difficult stadium to face a tough team who needed to win, so it was a very good victory for us.
"I always try to do my best and I had a good game. It was important to win, so I'm very happy. We had some luck, but we must continue playing like this. I try to play at my highest level all the time and I want to make it difficult for the coach to choose his No.1 goalkeeper ahead of the Euros.
"I want to stay at the level I was at last season, which I think was very high. It's difficult to stay consistent, but I want to continue growing and improving."
The showing comes two months after De Gea's aborted move to Real during the closing hours of the Spanish transfer window, after a paperwork delay blamed on United saw the deal fall through. The 24-year-old, who had been marginalised by Louis van Gaal while there remained uncertainty over his Old Trafford future, has since played in the club's last seven games.