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FOOTBALL

Spain thrash Costa Rica 7-0 in World Cup opener

Spain shredded Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in a brutal destruction in their Group E opener which launched their bid to lift a second World Cup.

Spain thrash Costa Rica 7-0 in World Cup opener
Spain's forward #11 Ferran Torres celebrates with Spain's midfielder #09 Gavi after scoring his team's fourth goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Spain and Costa Rica at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022. (Photo by Raul ARBOLEDA / AFP)

Avoiding the fate of giants Argentina and group rivals Germany, who lost 2-1 to Japan earlier on, Luis Enrique’s fancied side sparkled at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium, dominating possession and taking their chances mercilessly.

Ferran Torres netted twice and Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata were also on the scoresheet for the Euro 2020 semi-finalists in an emphatic romp.

In the past the 2010 World Cup winners have paid the price for profligacy, but all three forwards Luis Enrique selected netted in the first half to pay back his trust in them.

The coach placed Asensio at false nine, flanked by Olmo and Torres, starting with Morata and Ansu Fati on the bench.

READ ALSO: Where to watch the Qatar World Cup on TV in Spain

The coach opted to deploy Manchester City midfielder Rodri Hernandez in central defence, alongside club team-mate Aymeric Laporte, correctly anticipating his team would monopolise the ball.

It took only 11 minutes for La Roja to open the scoring, with Gavi stabbing a pass forward for Olmo to receive in the area and the RB Leipzig winger taking one sublime touch to turn and another to stroke the ball gently past Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica, who were a surprise package at the 2014 World Cup, beating Italy and Uruguay and drawing with England to top their group, were sliced apart again for the second goal 10 minutes later.

Jordi Alba’s low drilled cross was rammed home by Real Madrid forward Asensio past his former team-mate Navas, who might have done more to keep it out.

Torres stroked home from the penalty spot after Alba was fouled by Oscar Duarte –- a soft call on a hard night for Los Ticos, who were never in the game and failed to muster a shot at goal.

Barcelona forward Torres capitalised on more slack defending to fire the fourth past Navas early in the second half.

Luis Enrique was able to take off the effervescent Pedri and Torres before the hour mark in order to rest them for Sunday’s clash with Germany, and handed teenage Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde his debut.

The 19-year-old roared up the pitch in the build-up to Spain’s fifth goal, with substitute Morata crossing for Gavi to drill home with aplomb.

Kopa Trophy winner Gavi became the third youngest goalscorer at a World Cup at 18 years and 110 days old, after Mexico’s Manuel Rosas and record holder Pele.

Soler and Morata then got in on the act with stoppage-time strikes to pile further misery on Costa Rica and help Spain flex their muscles in a perfect opening match in Qatar.

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FOOTBALL

IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain’s cities after World Cup win

Thousands of Argentinians took to the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and other city centres across Spain to celebrate their national side’s victory against France in the World Cup final on Sunday.  

IN IMAGES: Argentina fans take over Spain's cities after World Cup win

Many of the roughly 100,000 Argentinians who have made Spain their home celebrated en masse the victory of la albiceleste until the early hours of Sunday night, packing squares, honking horns, chanting football songs and adorning everything in white and light blue. 

Argentina’s World Cup victory against France on penalties after an exhilarating 3-3 draw saw an explosion of joy among Argentinians the world around, and Spain was no exception. 

By midday in Madrid, there was a 50-metre queue outside nightclub Shoko, where Argentina fans gathered to watch their team on a big screen. 

When the winning penalty was scored, they exploded onto the streets, filling the Spanish capital’s Puerta del Sol square to the brim. 

Celebrations at times got out of hand, with some fans trying to climb the giant Christmas tree in Madrid’s iconic square.

Riot police had to be called in to assist and two people were arrested. 

In Barcelona, 10,000 people gathered at the city’s Arc de Triomf, lighting the sky red with flares and letting off fireworks, but fortunately there were no arrests or accidents reported.

Barcelona and Argentina share a common idol in Lionel Messi, who scored two goals in the final and was chosen player of the tournament. 

In Valencia, Argentina fans gathered in front of the town hall to celebrate. In Málaga, they gathered at River Plate’s youth academy branch. Similar scenes were witnessed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Seville, Bilbao and other cities across the territory.  

Spain’s cultural and linguistic links with Argentina run deep, as together with Italians, Spaniards made up the majority of the migrants that turned modern Argentina into a European melting pot in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

In more recent years, the trend has been reversed, with large migration flows every time an economic crisis hits the Argentine peso.

So far in 2022, more than 33,000 Argentine nationals have moved to Spain, the highest number in 14 years. 

Many of them have Italian passports, which partly explains why the biggest foreign population group in Barcelona are Italians. 

But under Spain’s new Grandchildren Law, many thousands of Argentine nationals will be able to claim Spanish citizenship, in plenty of cases without having ever lived in Spain.

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