A stunning first-half brace from Real Madrid midfielder Isco helped Spain to a thumping 3-0 victory to give them a lead of three points in Group G on the road to Russia at The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid last night.
The home side were in inspired form against their European Rivals in a repeat of the Euro 2012 Final, but just like that night in Kiev, the Spanish proved too strong for the Italians.
Julen Lopetegui’s men came into the tie as clear favorites off the back of a 1-2 away at Macedonia in June. Whereas, Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy made the tough trip to the Spanish Capital having thrashed Liechtenstein 5-0 in their last outing.
The main surprise in the starting lineups was Spanish star striker Alvaro Morata being left on the bench at home, but there were starts for the likes of Andres Iniesta, David Silva, David De Gea and Sergio Ramos.
Whereas, the visitors fielded a starting Xl that included the impressive striker duo of Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti with veteran keeper Gigi Buffon and Legendary defender Leonardo Bonucci also in the side.
The clash started evenly balanced as there were chances at both ends, but it would just take a pure moment of magic from Isco to crack the game open on 13 minutes.
Spain had won a free-kick around 25 yards out and to the left centre of the box, step up the 25-year-old to fire a delightful effort into the top corner to beat Buffon between the sticks. There were suggestions that the Juventus man should have at least got a hand to the effort.
Nevertheless, the home side led and that advantage would be doubled by the same man on the stroke of half-time.
The No22 twisted and turned on the edge of the box to unleash a magnificent left footed shot that buried in the corner.
The hosts continued to pile the pressure on in the second period and finally had their lead tripled after a sublime team move in the 77th minute.
Adventurously, centre-back Ramos found himself running down the right flank to deliver a superb cross that found Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata to convert into an empty net.
Not only were the Spaniards eager to display their attacking prowess, they also weren’t going to give their clean sheet up easily, as De Gea made a terrific late stop to deny Eder.
On the whole, there would have been a worry as referee Bjorn Kuipers blew the final whistle for The Azzurri after such an uncharacteristically poor defensive display.
However, the Italians will have a chance to redeem themselves when they face fourth place Israel at The San Siro in two days’ time, a win could secure them a place at the 2018 World Cup should Albania be defeated by Macedonia on the same night.
On the contrary, it is revenge for Spain from being knocked out of EURO 2016 by Italy, as they move three points clear on top of Group G and have now all but secured their place in Russia.
Next up for La Roja is a trip to Liechtenstein on Tuesday night, they will head into the tie full of confidence and with the memory of their 8-0 home thumping of The Blue Reds last October fresh in their memory.