Spain 7-0 Costa Rica: Ferran Torres scores brace as Luis Enrique’s side begin Qatar World Cup campaign in style
The 2022 Qatar World Cup has already seen plenty of shocks, with Argentina and Germany both falling to surprise defeats. However there was no such drama for Spain’s first match, as Luis Enrique’s team romped to a 7-0 win over Costa Rica. Ferran Torres scored a brace with Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata all scoring as well.
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Olmo made the breakthrough in the 11th minute when he played a give-and-go with Pedri, gathering a deflected return pass with a superb first touch before swivelling and finishing calmly.
Asensio doubled Spain’s lead 10 minutes later, taking a low Alba cross first-time and guiding a finish past Keylor Navas.
Costa Rica were barely able to make a pass as they struggled to get a foothold, and things got worse for them when Alba was tripped by Oscar Duarte in the box, allowing Torres the chance to convert from 12 yards.
Spain’s dominance on the ball was in large part thanks to Barcelona’s Pedri and Gavi, who were the first teenage duo to start together at a World Cup since 1962.
The cruise control continued after the break, when Torres raced into the box and found himself having to shield the ball with Navas and a defender on his shoulder, but he simply swivelled and fired in a low shot.
Substitute Morata then picked out Gavi with a cross and the youngster guided a volley off the foot of the post and in to become the youngest World Cup goalscorer since Pele in 1958.
Spain piled on the misery late on as two subs, Soler and Morata, got in on the fun, the former firing home a rebound from a spilled cross and the latter guiding a left-footed finish into the bottom corner.
By the end of the match, La Roja had played more than 1000 passes, while Costa Rica hadn't mustered a single shot.
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Spain’s lack of a clinical No.9, the unpredictable Morata being the closest thing they’ve got in the squad, has been used as a stick to beat them with by some.
But the solution Luis Enrique opted for, using Asensio through the middle with Olmo and Torres interchanging wings, was effective here as the trio weaved patterns through the Costa Rican backline.
All three were on the scoresheet by the time 31 minutes was on the clock, ending the game as a contest.
Enrique will be delighted by Morata's impact from the bench, too, as the striker scored one goal and set another up. Now the Spain boss has successfully tried and tested both options - with and without a natural No.9 - before the sterner tests to come.
Marco Asensio of Spain celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Spain and Costa Rica at Al Thumama Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
Image credit: Getty Images
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Gavi
There were plenty of contenders, with all of Spain's front three having strong games, Alba impressing at left-back and Morata making a superb impact from the bench.
But on a day where he made history, Gavi deserves the nomination. Judging by the maturity of his performances at the heart of this possession-dictating side, it's amazing to reflect that the Barcelona man is still just 18.
He became Spain's youngest player at a major tournament, Spain's youngest-ever major tournament goalscorer and the youngest player from any nation to score in the World Cup since some guy called Pele, in 1958. That's what you call good company.
12' 1-0 SPAIN! OLMO SCORES Spain make an early breakthrough! Another long period of possession leads to the opening goal. Olmo plays a give-and-go at the edge of the box and darts into the area. Pedri's pass is deflected, but the Leipzig man brings it down neatly and slots past Navas. Lovely stuff, very Spanish.
21' SPAIN 2-0 UP! ASENSIO SCORES This is clinical from Spain. Much like the first goal, they patiently probe inside the Costa Rica half before suddenly increasing the pace of their passes to devastating effect. Alba gets the ball in space on the left wing and plays a low cross in to Asensio, who superbly guides it past Navas first time.
31' 3-0 SPAIN! TORRES CONVERTS Alba goes down, he's tripped, penalty given. Torres with a calm penalty, sending Navas the wrong way. Sorry folks, an upset is probably off the cards this time. Very impresive start from La Roja.
55' 4-0 SPAIN, TORRES AGAIN And there's the fourth, and Torres' second of the night! It's a bit of a mess from Costa Rica, this one. Spain work it down the right and Torres receives a return pass as he drives into the box. A heavy touch leaves him shielding the ball with a defender and Navas behind him, but the Barcelona man simply swivels and fires in.
75' 5-0 SPAIN! GAVI WITH A SUPERB FINISH! Wonderful from Gavi! First Spain's youngest player at a World Cup is now their youngest scorer too. Morata plays a superb cross to the midfielder as he makes a run into the box, and he coolly guides a volley into the bottom corner.
90' AND THERE IT IS, 6-0! SOLER SCORES! Six! Substitute Soler is the next Spain player to get on the board, firing home a loose ball after Navas could only palm away a low cross. An absolute hammering.
93' MORATA SCORES! 7-0! Lovely finish from Morata, who guides a left-footed shot into the bottom corner. Costa Rica will be desperate to hear the full-time whistle.
Spain achieved their biggest win in World Cup history, surpassing the 6-1 win over Bulgaria in 1998, becoming the first team to score seven goals from just eight shots on target in a single game in the history of the tournament since 1966.
Ferran Torres is the third player to score a brace on his debut for Spain at the World Cup, after José Iraragorri against Brazil in 1934 and David Villa against Ukraine in 2006. Confidence.