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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football PHOTOS: Spain, Italy register easy wins

Football PHOTOS: Spain, Italy register easy wins

Last updated on: March 25, 2017 16:12 IST

Spain strolled to a 4-1 win at home to Israel, while Italy survived some first-half scares on the way to a 2-0 win and Croatia registered a 1-0 home win over Ukraine in an action-packed game.

Images from the World Cup qualifying matches on Friday:

Spain crush Israel to stay top of group

IMAGE: Diego Costa, centre, celebrates with team mates after scoring the third goal for Spain. Photograph: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Diego Costa was among the scorers as Spain strolled to a 4-1 win at home to Israel in a World Cup qualifier on Friday to stay top of Group G.

Manchester City playmaker David Silva put Spain ahead in the 15th minute with a low shot through the legs of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano while Vitolo doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime just after Israel had squandered a chance to level.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa scored a fourth international goal in four games to put Spain 3-0 up early in the second half with a header from a corner although Israel striker Lior Refaelov made amends for an earlier miss by pulling one back in the 76th minute.

Isco then restored Spain's three-goal advantage in the 88th minute, rolling the ball into the near corner to complete a sweeping counter started by a burst forward from Costa from the halfway line.

Spain top Group G with 13 points from five points, ahead of Italy on goal difference. Israel are third on nine points and Albania are fourth on six.

"Every game is like a World Cup for us, everything is at stake in every game and we know that every time three points are up for grabs they could be decisive," Spain coach Julen Lopetegui told reporters.

"I'm delighted with the mentality of the team and how we wanted to play as a team. We created a lot of chances and kept attacking and trying to stay intense. I'm happy with our collective spirit and this is the path we need to stay on."

David Silva

IMAGE: David Silva, right, scores the first goal for Spain. Photograph: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Thiago Alcantara dictated the play for Spain in midfield and created their first effort with a snapshot from outside the area which Marciano tipped onto the bar.

Israel forced an opening when a lapse in concentration from Gerard Pique allowed Eran Zahavi to race towards goal but the striker lost his composure as he entered the area.

Spain's patient build-up play paid off when Jordi Alba slid the ball through a defender's legs to Silva on the left side of the area, allowing the City midfielder to fire through Marciano's legs.

Israel defender Eitan Tibi was carried off on a stretcher shortly after the first goal following a challenge from Pique. The visitors had had little possession but carved out an excellent move just before the break, Lior Refaelov's header forcing David de Gea into a brilliant low save.

Spain were quickly knocked into shape and got their second with the next move, Thiago laying on a pass which looked destined for Silva although the midfielder, who was offside, waited for Vitolo to send the ball trickling over the line.

Costa further stretched Spain's lead after the break with a simple header but Refaelov smashed the ball into the roof of the net after Rami Gershon had headed against De Gea's near post before Isco struck late on.

Italy beat Albania in match marred by crowd trouble

IMAGE: Play is suspended due to fireworks being throw onto the pitch at Renzo Barbera stadium in Palermo. Photograph: Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Italy survived some first-half scares on the way to a 2-0 win over Albania in a World Cup qualifier marred by crowd trouble caused by away fans on Friday.

A Daniele De Rossi penalty and Ciro Immobile header gave Italy three points in Group G as their veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his 1,000th senior appearance.

De Rossi had to wait to take his penalty when two firecrackers were thrown onto the pitch by Albania fans behind the goal.

The match was then interrupted for nearly 10 minutes in the second half as Albania fans set up more firecrackers, creating a cloud of smoke over Buffon's penalty area. The match resumed after the Albania players appealed to their supporters for calm.

Italy are level on 13 points with Spain at the top of the group although their rivals lead on goal difference.

Albania's defeat left them with six points and further dented their hopes of a first-ever World Cup finals appearance.

"We didn't settle quickly enough but after the 30th minute, Buffon didn't have anything to do," said Italy coach Giampiero Ventura.

"It was not an extraordinarily exciting performance tonight but we have taken another small step forward."

IMAGE: Italy's players celebrate after Ciro Immobile scored the second goal. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The visitors nearly grabbed a first-minute lead when Sokol Cikalleshi shot across the face of goal while Odise Roshi was not far wide with a long-range effort.

It was a hair-raising start for Italy but they survived to take a 12th minute lead when Andrea Belotti was pushed by Migjen Basha in the area and De Rossi, undisturbed by the firecrackers, converted confidently.

Albania continued to look threatening and Roshi got clear of his marker but shot weakly at Buffon, the only save the 39-year-old had to make in his landmark game.

The Russian-based midfielder had another chance just before halftime when the ball came to him in the penalty area but he curled his shot over the bar.

Italy took a firmer grip on the game after the interruption and Antonio Candreva was denied on the hour when Albania's debutant goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha saved at his feet.

Immobile wrapped up the points when he met Davide Zappacosta's long, looping cross with a firm header at the far post to in the 71st minute.

Albania coach Gianni De Biasi said he was "really upset" about the firework incidents.

"I saw a different side to the Albanian fans, something I hadn’t seen in my years here," said the Italian.

"It... hurt to see those scenes and I never thought I’d see that from the Albanian supporters."

Ireland's Coleman breaks leg in draw with Wales

IMAGE: Neil Taylor, right, of Wakes is sent off by referee Nicola Rizzoli as Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman lies injured. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Ireland's Seamus Coleman broke his leg after a scything challenge from Wales defender Neil Taylor, who was immediately dismissed in the goalless Group D qualifier at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Friday.

The Everton fullback left the field on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask on his face, after Taylor recklessly clattered into him on 68 minutes of the encounter that left Wales facing a tough task to qualify directly for the World Cup.

"It's obviously a real blow to him, he's having a season of a lifetime at club level. He's a big player for us, a great captain so it's a big, big loss to us and Everton," Ireland manager Martin O'Neill told a news conference.

Taylor's wild challenge came two minutes after a booking for Wales talisman Gareth Bale meant both men will now miss the key qualifier against Serbia, who top the group on 11 points, ahead of Ireland on goal difference and four points clear of Wales.

Ireland were already without the suspended Robbie Brady and injured Wes Hoolahan and the group leaders going into Friday's games badly missed James McCarthy early on after the central midfielder's withdrawal just before kickoff.

Spending long spells without the ball, Ireland still managed to keep Bale at bay, hurriedly closing the subdued Real Madrid man down at every touch as the half ended without a single shot on target.

Wales, who named the same side that famously beat Belgium 3-1 in last year's European Championship quarter-final, started the second half as they did the first and Bale came alive, finally testing Darren Randolph's goal twice in four minutes.

The game turned on Taylor's red card as the packed stadium, buzzing since kick off, erupted as the hosts piled on the pressure.

Man-of-the-match James McClean, wearing the number 5 jersey in tribute to his friend Ryan McBride of local Irish team Derry City who died on Sunday, came closest to scoring after his deflected shot flashed inches wide.

There was still time for Bale to almost snatch it with a long range left foot drive but Wales' 25-year run without a victory over Ireland remained as Coleman's injury overshadowed the night.

"It's a bad one for Seamus, I hope he's not out for too long because he's one of the best fullbacks in the Premier League. Neil Taylor's not that type of player and he's been there himself with that type of injury," Wales manager Chris Coleman said.

"He's a great boy and Neil Taylor's devastated himself."

Kalinic rocket keeps Croatia in driving seat

IMAGE: Croatia's players celebrate after Nikola Kalinic scored a goal Photograph: Antonio Bronic/Reuters

Croatia stayed top of World Cup qualifying Group I after a superb first-half goal by striker Nikola Kalinic gave them a 1-0 home win over Ukraine in an action-packed game on Friday.

The result left the Croatians on top of their group with 13 points from five games, three ahead of second-placed Iceland who moved one place up after a 2-1 win in Kosovo. Third-placed Ukraine and Turkey in fourth have eight points each.

The home side missed several chances either side of Kalinic's 38th-minute thunderbolt while a cagey Ukrainian outfit rarely troubled Croatia's rearguard in the Maksimir stadium.

Mario Mandzukic hit the post for Croatia and Kalinic twice came close before he broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, drilling an unstoppable shot into the top corner after good work by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

Kalinic should have doubled Croatia's lead four minutes later but goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov smothered the striker's weak lob from 12 metres when the goal was at his mercy.

At the other end, Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic parried a pair of long-range efforts and defender Tin Jedvaj cleared the ball off the line after a goalmouth scramble.

Pyatov came to Ukraine's rescue in the dying minutes when he palmed away a stinging Modric shot after the midfielder's darting run into the box.

Croatia next visit Iceland on June 11, while Ukraine are away to Finland.

Dempsey grabs hat-trick as US hammer Honduras 6-0

United States' forward Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring a hat-trick against Honduras during the 2018 World Cup soccer qualifier at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California on Friday

IMAGE: United States' forward Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring a hat-trick against Honduras during the 2018 World Cup soccer qualifier at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California on Friday. Photograph: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports/via Reuters

Clint Dempsey scored a hat-trick as the United States hammered Honduras 6-0 in California on Friday to get their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

The United States opened the scoring through Sebastian Lletget after five minutes when he was on hand to tap home after Christian Pulisic's shot squirmed past the goalkeeper.

Honduras came back into the game but the home side doubled their lead after 27 minutes when US captain Michael Bradley was afforded time and space to fire home a low drive from 25 yards out.

Dempsey marked his return to the team after a year out with a heart complaint by making it 3-0 five minutes later when he volleyed home a deft pass from Pulisic, who made it 4-0 seconds after half-time when he shot into the bottom corner.

Pulisic turned provider again three minutes later with a perfectly weighted pass that Dempsey steered round the keeper before firing into the empty net.

Dempsey got his hat-trick and his side's sixth goal in the 54th minute when he curled a spectacular free kick into the far corner of the net from 25 yards out.

The result takes the United States onto three points, equal with Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras, and off the bottom of the group on goal difference.

Hernandez equals Mexico goals record in 2-0 win over Costa Rica

Striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scored a record-equalling 46th international goal to send Mexico on their way to a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Chicharito struck in the seventh minute at the Azteca with a deft chip over goalkeeper Keylor Navas to equal the Mexican record set by former striker Jared Borgetti in 2008.

Defender Nestor Araujo increased Mexico's lead on the stroke of halftime when he headed in a corner.

The victory lifted Mexico over Costa Rica into top place in the fifth and final phase of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 finals in Russia with seven points from three matches.

Costa Rica are second with six points and Panama third with four -- after their 1-0 defeat away to Trinidad and Tobago -- in the three automatic qualifying berths.

The team finishing in fourth place when the matches in the six-nation group are completed plays off over two legs against an Asian side for one more place at the finals.

The top three teams in the group qualify automatically for Russia while the fourth-placed side goes into a playoff with a team from the Asian conference. 

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