Attacking midfielder Isco Alarcon got Spain closer to a spot in the 2018 World Cup with an unstoppable performance in a 3-0 victory over traditional rivals Italy at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium here.
Italy went 11 years without losing a classifying round for a major tourney before bowing to Spain on Saturday, reports Efe.
The Italians got off to an aggressive start that was, however, punished with cards for Marco Verratti and Leonardo Bonucci in the first 12 minutes.
The match was then all Isco’s, who scored twice before the first half was over.
First, at the 13th minute, he drilled a free kick past veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was slow trying to block it (1-0).
Italy subsequently put on the pressure with a threatening offence, but Spain’s defence stood equally steady.
Then, just before halftime, as he entered the area with a left-footed low, Isco shot the ball past Buffon and into the net to make it 2-0 at minute 40, with plenty of fans shouting “Ole!” from the stands.
Spain’s Alvaro Morata added another goal for a good measure at minute 77, and so it ended: Spain 3, Italy 0.
Spain are now top in World Cup Group G with 19 points, three more than Italy.
“I would give Spain a nine out of 10 for this match, as you can always improve, but it’s true that we did play a great game,” Spain captain Sergio Ramos was quoted as saying by marca.com.
Italy chief coach Gian Piero Ventura said after the loss: “There was a very obvious difference physically and in terms of quality.
“We got things wrong and gifted them things and made it hard for ourselves. We conceded two goals without another shot on target while David De Gea made three important saves. We’re human and they’re a bit less so.”