Former champions Spain on Wednesday got their FIFA World Cup campaign off to a pulsating start with a record 7-0 rout of Costa Rica as a Ferran Torres brace and a sumptuous strike from Gavi sent them past the 100-goal mark in soccer’s showpiece event.
The European giants put their stamp on a Group E stunned by Japan’s victory over Germany, with Spain relentlessly on the attack against a shambolic Costa Rican side who gave Luis Enrique’s team time and space to carve out chance after chance.
It was a night of records at Doha’s iconic al-Thumama Stadium for a Spain side who have struggled at world cups since winning the title in 2010, with Barcelona 18-year-old Gavi becoming the country’s youngest World Cup player and the youngest to score since Pele in 1958.
Although Costa Rica’s clumsy defending might have flattered Spain, La Furia Roja were seamless in their attacks, with Pedri the enabler at the heart of seemingly every move in a game where Dani Olmo, Gavi and Marco Asensio and Torres all dazzled.
They each found the net as Spain joined the 100 club of World Cup goals, and late strikes from Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata sealed their biggest victory margin in a World Cup finals match.
“I don’t think it was Costa Rica being bad, I think the win was our merit. We deserved to win, taking the game to them,” Olmo said. “Our team is strong and that is the path we need to follow. It was a boost of motivation, for sure.”
AP, AL-RAYYAN, Qatar
The wait remains for Canada after Alphonso Davies on Wednesday missed a chance to score his nation’s first-ever World Cup goal and grab an early lead against Belgium in Group F.
As Davies readied for a spot-kick in the 11th minute after a hand ball, red-clad Canadian fans at the other end of the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium buzzed in anticipation for a moment decades in the making.
“You’re carrying the weight of a nation — 36 years of waiting — longer than 36 for our first goal,” coach John Herdman said.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois guessed correctly to dive right and batted Davis’ attempt with his forearm.
The ball bounced away and Canada never got any closer to scoring.
Despite dominating the world’s second-ranked team in Canada’s first World Cup match since 1986, they fell to Belgium 1-0 as Michy Batshuayi scored on a quick counter in the 44th minute.
Davies did not speak with media after the game.
“He’s our star player. He’s one of the best players in the world. He’ll move on and he’ll have another chance and he’ll bury it,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said. “There was also the best goalkeeper in the world in net he had to put it past.”
Courtois had studied video of Davies.
“He shot twice that side, so that’s why I decided to go that way,” Courtois said.
Germany forward Thomas Mueller on Thursday said that his country’s second successive first-round exit from the FIFA World Cup was an “absolute catastrophe,” which teammate Kai Havertz likened to “watching a horror movie.” Germany beat Costa Rica, but Spain’s defeat to Japan meant Germany finished third in Group E behind Spain, with the teams equal on four points and the positions decided only by goal difference. “It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough,” Mueller said. “It’s a feeling of powerlessness.” Mueller was part of the 2014 World Cup-winning team and was also in the side who were
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