Spain beat Italy 3-0

Isco scored twice as Spain beat Italy 3-0 at the Bernabeu to move clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group G.

The Real Madrid midfielder clipped in a free-kick after 13 minutes before doubling Spain's lead with a low strike five minutes before half-time.

Although Italy, who had not lost a qualifying tie for a major championships since September 2006, improved for the second half, they lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata came off the bench to put the result beyond doubt when he tapped in a cross from captain Sergio Ramos with 13 minutes left.

Spain deployed Manchester City midfielder David Silva in the false nine role, but had the likes of £60million front man Morata and recalled veteran David Villa, now playing in Major Soccer League in reserve on the bench.

Alvaro Morata

Despite the lack of a regular centre forward, Spain did not have to wait long for their first goal.

Leonardo Bonucci was somewhat fortunate to only be shown a yellow card for fouling Marco Asensio as the Madrid man looked to race into the area.

From the resulting free-kick, some 22 yards out, Isco curled the ball over the wall and into the top left corner, past the reach of Gianluigi Buffon, who was making his 170th international appearance.

Italy almost got back on level terms straight away when Andrea Belotti's header brought a fine save from Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Spain, though, continued to look dangerous as their front line rotated.

Gerard Pique headed over a cross from Koke before Dani Carvajal's effort was deflected behind.

A second goal eventually arrived five minutes before the break.

The ball was worked down the left and then back into the middle by Andres Iniesta, who picked out Isco.

The midfielder cut inside a couple of Azzurri shirts to the edge of the box before dispatching a low, left-footed shot into the bottom right corner as Buffon was beaten again.

Italy regrouped for the second half and provided a much sterner rearguard for Spain to break down as well as offering more in the final third themselves.

Lorenzo Insigne tested De Gea before Belotti headed over from a corner.

Spain, though, remained a threat on the break and Isco sent Dani Carvajal clear, but Buffon was able to get a hand to his attempted chip.

With 20 minutes left, Iniesta was replaced by Morata and the substitute made an instant impact to end any hopes of an Italian recovery.

Morata laid the ball off to Ramos on the right, and the captain ran down the line before clipping a pass back across the face of goal for the Spain number nine to knock in at the far post.

A long-range effort from Atalanta defender Leonardo Spinazzola forced De Gea into an acrobatic stop before Morata nodded in from 10 yards, but the offside flag was already up.

With three matches left, Spain are now three points clear of Italy, who look set to have to come through the play-offs to qualify for Russia.


More in this Section

Toulon suffer defeat in Bath

Mark Hughes understands Stoke fans' frustration

All too easy for Man City as they stroll to 16th Premier League win in a row

Real Madrid claim Club World Cup title by narrowest of margins


Today's Stories

Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan: People might laugh at me, but I will be king of the world

Time to wax lyrical about Brazil again as World Cup approaches

Jerry Flannery keeping the Munster value system intact through years of change

Cue Card unlikely to run in King George VI Chase at Kempton

Lifestyle

Review: N.E.R.D - No One Ever Really Dies: Their finest album to date

Everyone's mad at Google - Sundar Pichai has to fix it

Scenes from the analogue city - Memories of Limerick from the late 80s and early 90s

Ask Audrey: 'I heard that Viagra fumes from Pfizer’s were causing stiffys below in Ringaskiddy'

More From The Irish Examiner