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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football friendlies: Silva leads Spain's assault on Costa Rica

Football friendlies: Silva leads Spain's assault on Costa Rica

November 12, 2017 18:18 IST

Spain's David Silva reacts during the international friendly match against Costa Rica at La Rosaleda Stadium in Malaga, Spain, on Saturday

IMAGE: Spain's David Silva reacts after scoring during the international friendly match against Costa Rica at La Rosaleda Stadium in Malaga, Spain, on Saturday. Photograph: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Manchester City midfielder David Silva played a starring role as an irresistible Spain showed their class to thrash Costa Rica 5-0 in an international friendly on Saturday.

Silva struck twice in the second half to further stretch the 2010 World Cup winners' lead after Barcelona’s Jordi Alba had fired them into the lead in the sixth minute and Alvaro Morata had doubled their advantage midway through the first half.

 

Veteran midfielder Andres Iniesta rounded off the drubbing with a distance strike in the 73rd although there was some concern on the Spain bench when Isco asked to be substituted after a brutal tackle from Kendall Waston although the Real Madrid midfielder did not appear to be seriously injured.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui said he was unsure if Isco would travel to Russia for Tuesday's friendly against next year's World Cup hosts.

"Isco has a big knock, it's not serious or important and we'll decide tomorrow if he travels to Russia or not," Lopetegui told a news conference.

"What I'm most pleased about was our attitude and we need to keep it up. Every game will be a different world. We have to believe in the type of team we are and have faith in the things we do well."

Lopetegui picked a near full-strength side for Spain’s first friendly since sealing their place in the 2018 finals with an almost perfect qualifying campaign.

He rested No. 1 goalkeeper David de Gea to hand a debut to Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga but played an otherwise familiar side which steamrolled its way through qualifying by winning nine out of 10 games and remaining unbeaten.

A talent-filled midfield four of Silva, Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara and Isco ensured Spain monopolised possession in front of a buoyant, sold out crowd at Malaga’s La Rosaleda stadium, barely giving Costa Rica a look in.

The Central American side, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and will also be in Russia next June, were missing Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas and his understudy Danny Carvajal proved to be a poor substitute, offering up little opposition to Spain’s attacking onslaught.

Alba thrashed a Silva cutback beyond Carvajal to get Spain off to the perfect start, while the goalkeeper was at fault for the second goal, spilling a tame cross from Silva at the feet of Morata who gobbled up the rebound from close range.

Costa Rica had only one chance of note before the break and Spain showed no mercy after the interval.

Silva pounced on a mix up in the Costa Rica defence to score six minutes into the second period and four minutes later recovered the ball before slamming it low under the grasp of Carvajal to score again.

Carvajal made a third costly slip of the game in allowing Iniesta's distance shot through his hands, capping another impressive win for Spain, who will be one of the favourites to lift the World Cup next year.

Argentina beat Russia 1-0 in World Cup venue inaugural match

Argentina's Sergio Aguero celebrates with teammate Alejandro Gomez after scoring a goal during an international friendly against Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Saturday

IMAGE: Argentina's Sergio Aguero celebrates with teammate Alejandro Gomez after scoring a goal during an international friendly against Russia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Saturday. Photograph: Epsilon/Getty Images

A late goal by Sergio Aguero lifted Argentina to a 1-0 win over World Cup hosts Russia in the inaugural match at Moscow's newly-renovated Luzhniki stadium on Saturday.

Aguero's header found the back of the net in the 86th minute, the striker beating veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev after his initial shot was blocked by the Russian defence.

Led by captain Lionel Messi, Argentina were dynamic from the start of the friendly but were unable to capitalise on their chances in the first half.

Argentina's attack expertly combined to generate several scoring chances, with Messi finding Angel Di Maria in the box in the 36th minute, but the Paris St Germain midfielder could not control the ball.

"Some of the things that we planned worked in this clash against this tough opponent," Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli told reporters.

"We played in a courageous, bold manner. We created resistance to the pressure our opponent put us under. We need to build on this."

Konstantin Rausch kept Russia alive in the opening minutes of the second half by heading the ball off the line after Messi had chipped Akinfeev.

Although they regrouped in the second half, Russia struggled to keep possession, heavily relying on Akinfeev to deny the Argentine attack.

Russia tested Argentina for the first time in the 61st minute with a short-range shot by Denis Glushakov tapped away by goalkeeper Sergio Romero before defender German Pezzella cleared the ball.

"We knew that it would be a tough match and that we wouldn't have possession in some moments," Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said.

"I think our defence played correctly from a tactical point of view but we were unable to start quality attacks, especially in the first half, when we had the ball."

Argentina's friendly against Russia was the first test match held at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, the venue for the opening game and final of next year's World Cup.

Originally opened in 1956, Luzhniki was one of the venues for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It hosted the 2013 world athletics championships before being closed for renovations to prepare it for the World Cup.

Argentina play Nigeria in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, which will not host any World Cup matches next year, on November 14.

Russia face Spain in a friendly in St Petersburg on the same day. 

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