(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
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Spain put on a majestic performance as they thumped Costa Rica 7-0 at the Al Thumama Stadium to begin their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quest. La Roja's win puts them top of Group E ahead of Japan, who stunned four-time champions Germany earlier at the Khalifa International Stadium.
It was a day of history for La Roja as Dani Olmo scored Spain's 100th goal at the World Cup, while Gavi (18y, 110d) became the youngest player since Pele in 1958 (17y, 249d) to score at the World Cup. The win is also Spain's biggest in World Cup history, beating the previous 6-1 thrashing of Bulgaria in 1998.
Olmo opened the scoring for Luis Enrique's men, while a double from Ferran Torres and goals from Marco Asensio, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata ensured Luis Enrique's men avoided an upset with Germany still to come in the group.
Spain became the sixth team after Brazil, Germany, Italy, France and Argentina to reach 100 goals at the World Cup.
Spain started on the front foot, and their dominance soon showed five minutes in as Pedri played in Olmo, whose volley went just wide.
Asensio sliced an effort wide from inside the box after Pedri played the Real Madrid man through.
Spain soon made the pressure count in the 11th minute thanks to their trademark tiki-taka. With Pedro and Gavi pulling the strings, La Roja carved open Costa Rica's defence as Gavi chipped a lovely pass over the defence for Olmo, who held off his marker to lift over the onrushing Keylor Navas.
Los Ticos barely had time to get over the first goal when Asensio swept in Spain's second in the 21st from Jordi Alba's cross for his first goal in Spanish colours since 2019.
Spain dominance perhaps justified Enrique's desire to stick to the young players as La Roja soon forced a penalty when Oscar Duarte fouled Alba in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Torres made no mistake as he sent Navas the wrong way to make it three for Spain inside 30 minutes.“Our objective is to dominate the play continuously, and for that, you have to have the ball,” Enrique told TVE.“Your opponent gets tired and can't get into it, our pressing was exceptional, and the 16 players we used were superb — although we still have room to improve.”
Spain kicked off the second half with the same intensity, but Asensio could only shoot high and wide. They weren't to be denied a fourth as Torres grabbed his second in the 54th minute thanks to some amateurish defending by Costa Rica, leaving the Barcelona man space and time to win a loose ball and slot past the hapless Navas.
Enrique soon made changes and brought on Morata, who wasted no time testing the goalkeeper.
Gavi soon made history and extended the 2010 champions' lead in the 74th minute. The young midfielder met Morata's cross with a beautiful volley with the outside of his foot, which came off the post as Navas stood rooted.
Substitute Carlos Soler put the gloss on the score with Spain's sixth in the 90th minute slotting home from just outside the six-yard after Navas pushed Nico Williams' cross into his path. There was still time for another as Morata made it seven in added time, curling his effort into the bottom corner from Olmo's pass with Navas at full stretch.
Costa Rica attempted zero shots in this game, the lowest total for any team in a single match in the 2022 World Cup.
“Spain was much better than us, they kept possession throughout the match,” said Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez.
“They played in the final third for most of the game, and we did the exact opposite. We didn't attack, we didn't keep possession, and when we had it, we didn't protect it. Spain played an amazing game, and we didn't.”
Spain will next play Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday, while Costa Rica will hope to bounce back against high-flying Japan at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.