Liechtenstein 0 - 8 Spain: as it happened, goals, match report
Liechtenstein 0 - 8 Spain: match report
Liechtenstein had not registered a pass when Sergio Ramos met David Silva's devilish free-kick to head the ball across Peter Jehle's goal and in to the corner. The clock had barely ticked past the three-minute mark when Spain got off the mark.
Ahead of the match in at the Rheinpark Stadion, overlooked by the stunning Vaduz Castle, Spain had beaten Liechtenstein seven times in their seven meetings, with 31 goals scored and 0 conceded. France's 0-0 draw with Luxembourg on Monday evening served as a reminded that matches against the European minnows can occasionally punish complacency. Ramos' early header eased any nerves.
The second goal came after 15 minutes. David Silva, often given space to display his mesmerising manipulation of the ball, played a neat one-two with Isco and whipped a cross on to the head of Álvaro Morata. The Chelsea striker planted it firmly in to the net. Morata looked to have strayed offside, but the linesman's flag stayed down.
Play restarted for a brief moment before the third goal arrived. Peter Jehle, Liechtenstein's captain and well-worked 'keeper committed a miskick that ranks somewhere between disastrous and hilarious, depending on your penchant for masochism. Jehle caught the ball with his standing foot as he sought to clear long. Morata could not believe his luck, laid the ball off to Isco, and allowed him to finish in to an empty net.
The match resembled an attack vs defence training exercise, when the attacking team constantly has a three-man numerical advantage.
It was four goals, five minutes before half-time. David Silva curled a free-kick in to the postage stamp of the near top corner. The finish from the Manchester City creator would have graced any match, and it was his ninth goal under Jolen Lopetegui.
Spain were relentless after the break, eager to establish an unassailable goal-difference advantage over Italy. That gives La Roja an added cushion; even if Italy claw back three points, Spain will avoid the play-offs courtesy of their two 8-0 wins ove Liechtenstein.
Iago Aspas, a half-time replacement for the excellent Silva, scored the first goal of the second period on 51 minutes. The Celta Vigo striker seized upon a loose ball after Morata's header crashed against the bar.
Morata had another goal for himself three minutes later, with Aspas turned provider. Morata received the Galician's pass deep inside the box on the half-turn, waited for the 'keeper to dive, and tickled the ball in to the opposite corner.
Thiago missed from close range just before the hour mark, but Aspas made no mistake shortly after when Jehle parried Thiago's shot to his deet. He shimmied inside to escape the attention of his marker, and picked his spot at the near post.
The match ambled towards the full-time whistle, a long-foregone conclusion. Yet there was still time to score an eighth, and equal the result in the reverse fixture in León in September 2016. Deulofeu, a lively presence on the right flank, flashed a low shot across the six-yard box that a weary-legged Göppel deflected in to his own net.
With Spain's goal difference nicely inflated, one win in either of their last two matches against Albania or Israel will be enough to secure a passage east to Russia. Yet Julen Lopetegui will demand that his side retain intensity; the focus now switches to securing as high a FIFA ranking as possible, in order to ensure a top seeding at the World Cup.