Spain began their World Cup campaign with a display of total dominance as they thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 to provide an early statement about their tournament credentials.
Kick-off came only hours after Japan had pulled off a shock 2-1 win over Germany in the other game in Group E but there was never any possibility of another upset at Al Thumama Stadium, with Luis Enrique’s side in complete control from the outset.
Dani Olmo (11) and Marco Asensio (21) scored their first two goals, with former Manchester City forward Ferran Torres adding the third from the penalty spot (31), then notching his second of the night with a low finish soon after half-time (54).
Barcelona midfielder Gavi, the youngest player to play for Spain at a World Cup at 18 years and 110 days old, then became the youngest scorer in the competition since Pele in 1958 with a sublime volleyed finish from Alvaro Morata’s pass for the fifth goal (74).
There was still time for substitutes Carlos Soler (90) and Morata (90+2) to get in on the act, with Costa Rica unable to offer anything in response, failing to even muster a shot on goal as Spain, seeking a repeat of their 2010 World Cup triumph, enjoyed a record 82 per cent share of the possession.
Big moments in the game…
- 11 min: Olmo scoops a cool finish over Navas for the opener
- 21 min: Asensio fires home second from Alba’s low centre
- 31 min: Torres converts penalty after Alba is brought down
- 54 min: Torres capitalises on poor defending to add fourth
- 74 min: Gavi becomes youngest World Cup scorer since Pele in ’58
- 90 min: Soler grabs sixth after good work from Williams
- 90+2 min: Morata adds seventh and final goal to complete rout
How Spain destroyed woeful Costa Rica
Spain’s dominance was such that they could have already been ahead by the time Olmo scored their 11th-minute opener, the RB Leipzig forward lifting a deft finish over Keylor Navas from Gavi’s pass having earlier flashed a low effort just wide.
Spain started the game without an out-and-out striker but it proved no hindrance as Real Madrid’s Asensio, playing as a false nine, swiftly doubled their lead from Jordi Alba’s low pick-out.
Costa Rica were left shell-shocked by Spain’s start and the pattern of the game continued to follow the same lines, with Torres scoring from the penalty spot after Oscar Duarte had felled Alba.
The game was effectively over as a contest at that point but Spain’s appetite for goals remained insatiable, with Torres adding the fourth after the break when dismal Costa Rica defending gave him a second chance after his initial shot was blocked.
The fourth goal signalled the first in a raft of Spain changes, with Torres and the brilliant Pedri substituted with Sunday’s game against Germany in mind, but their dominance continued.
Morata blazed wide having sprung the Costa Rica offside trap but Spain did not have to wait long for their fifth goal, Gavi capping another outstanding individual performance with a wonderful strike, hit with the outside of his boot from the edge of the box and bouncing in off the post.
That goal came from a Morata cross and the former Chelsea striker eventually got one of his own, playing a clever one-two with Olmo before slotting a left-footed finish past the hapless Navas.
Moments before that goal, Soler, of Paris Saint-Germain, had added the sixth when he pounced on a loose ball after a low cross from fellow substitute Nico Williams was palmed into the danger zone by Navas.
Spain will of course face far sterner tests than this, starting against Germany on Sunday, but their performance was nonetheless an ominous show of strength at a tournament in which some of the other favourites – Argentina as well as Germany – are already faltering.
What else happened in the World Cup on Wednesday?
The earlier game in Group E brought another huge shock to follow Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina yesterday, with Japan coming from behind to beat Germany 2-1.
In Group F, Morocco and Croatia played out a goalless draw, with Belgium due to face Canada later in the day.