Spain coach Julen Lopetegui warned his team not to get distracted by their potentially winner-takes-all World Cup qualifying showdown against Italy after the 2010 champions saw off Israel 4-1 on Friday.
The win kept Spain at the top of Group G with 13 points — the same as Italy — but ahead on goal difference.
Spain and Italy meet on Sept. 2, but Lopetegui’s side must first play Macedonia in June in their next qualifier on the road to the 2018 finals in Russia.
“Our aim is to take three points in every match,” Lopetegui said. “Before we play Italy, we have to face Macedonia and it will be necessary to approach that with the same rigor we showed against Israel.”
Spain and Italy drew their first meeting 1-1 in Turin last year and now lead third-placed Israel by four points in the standings.
Only the group winners are assured a place in the World Cup finals with the runners-up left to take their chances in the playoffs.
Spain were ahead after just 13 minutes when David Silva scored after a fine pass from Jordi Alba.
On the stroke of half-time, Vitolo made it 2-0 with the goal coming crucially just two minutes after a Lior Refaelov header was well saved by David De Gea.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa made it 3-0 after 51 minutes while Silva hit the post six minutes later.
Refaelov cut the deficit before Isco added a fourth for the 2010 champions two minutes from time.
“I am very happy with my goal, but the victory is the most important thing,” Silva said. “We needed to win to stay ahead of the rest. The table looks very positive and we are on the way to accomplishing a great job. Now we have to continue like this.”
Lopetegui said he saw lots of things in the performance on Friday which pleased him.
“We dominated them because the team did the right things, so I was happy with the intensity, the recovery of the ball and the start of the second half was also very good,” he said. “At 3-0 I had the feeling we played a little less collectively but, in general, the team did well.”
“We created lot of chances today. We scored four goals, but could have had more. In general, I am satisfied with the team spirit,” Lopetegui added.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being