Luis Enrique’s spirited Spain began their 2022 FIFA World Cup journey with an emphatic 7-0 victory over Costa Rica at the Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday night (23 November). Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio, Alvaro Morata, Carlos Soler, and Gavi each scored a goal in Spain’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Group E opener, while Ferran Torres netted a brace.
Enrique’s side wasted no time getting into the groove. They passed the ball around swiftly and evaded Costa Rican tackles, frustrating the opposition with their movement and awareness. They created their first goalscoring opportunity after just five minutes of play.
Olmo met Pedri’s perfectly weighted delivery at the far post. Unmarked, Olmo went for goal with a side-footed effort, but could not keep it on target. Four minutes later, Asensio tried his luck from the center. Like Olmo, the Real Madrid forward also failed to keep his shot on target.
Spain’s relentless pressure finally paid off in the 11th minute, when Olmo exquisitely controlled Gavi’s deflected pass and dinked the ball over Keylor Navas and into the netting. Ten minutes later, Asensio put his magical left foot to use, applying a first-time finish to Jordi Alba’s low ball from the left channel.
Just before the half-hour mark, Costa Rican centre-back Oscar Duarte needlessly brought down Alba inside the box. The referee, without hesitation, pointed to the spot. Barcelona ace Torres dispatched a confident penalty to put Spain 3-0 up. The Spaniards ended the first half with a whopping 85% possession, completing 537 passes.
Nine minutes into the second 45, the 2010 FIFA World Cup winners stretched their lead to 4-0. Torres capitalized on Costa Rica’s lackluster defending to slot the ball past a helpless Navas from close range. Enrique made a flurry of substitutions, but that did not dampen the heavyweight’s style of play in any way. They continued to torment the opposition with their intricate touches and inch-perfect passes.
In the 74th minute, substitute Morata clipped the ball for Gavi just inside the box. The 18-year-old applied a superb first-time finish to make it 5-0 for Spain. The party, however, had not quite ended for La Roja. Substitute Soler scored the sixth in the 90th minute before Morata bagged the seventh three minutes later.
It was a statement Spanish win at the Al Thumama Stadium, with the 2010 winners bagging their biggest-ever victory at the FIFA World Cup. Here are five Spain stars who stood out in their assertive win over Costa Rica on Wednesday:
At 18 years and 108 days, Gavi became the youngest World Cup debutant for Spain on Wednesday night. In the 74th minute, he became the youngest Spanish player to score at the tournament. Receiving a dinked pass from Morata just inside the box, Gavi confidently dispatched a stunning outside-the-boot volley. It clipped the inside of the post before rippling the netting.
In addition to marking his World Cup debut with a stunning goal, Gavi played a key pass, won seven duels, drew five fouls, and completed 66 passes (90.4% accuracy).
#4 Dani Olmo
His fifth-minute miss aside, Dani Olmo had a perfect game against Costa Rica. He demonstrated impeccable control to bring down Gavi’s deflected pass in the 11th minute and applied an exquisite finish to take the ball past Navas. Olmo also played a neat one-two with Morata to set up the Atletico Madrid man in injury time.
Against Costa Rica, Olmo also played a key pass, won two ground duels, and attempted two tackles.
Barcelona star Pedri ran the show in the middle of the park for the Spanish Armada. His passing was immaculate, he created goalscoring chances at will, and rarely lost possession (only thrice). Pedri oozed class in his FIFA World Cup debut, making fans hopeful of a bright future.
On Group E matchday one, Pedri played three key passes, delivered four accurate long balls, and won both his ground duels. He also completed 86 passes (96.6%), attempted two tackles, and created a big chance.
#2 Jordi Alba
Spain’s veteran fullback Jordi Alba rarely put a foot wrong against Costa Rica on Wednesday. Alba’s passing accuracy, as well as range, was exquisite. He held his ground in one-on-one battles. And, most importantly, he played a direct role in two of La Roja’s three first-half goals.
The Barcelona left-back smartly picked out Asensio for his 21st-minute strike and then won a penalty 10 minutes later, which Torres put away.
In the 11th game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Alba played a key pass, delivered five accurate long balls, won three ground duels, and made two interceptions. He also completed a stunning 100 passes (93.5% accuracy) and completed a dribble.
#1 Ferran Torres
Barcelona forward Ferran Torres had a wonderful FIFA World Cup debut, bagging two well-taken goals. The forward opened his goalscoring account from the penalty spot in the first half. Torres sent Navas the wrong way with a hop at the end of his run-up and calmly slotted the ball on the left side of the Costa Rican’s goal.
Torres’ second strike came in the 54th minute. The former Manchester City man showed great awareness to capitalize on the chaos inside the Costa Rican box and roll the ball past a helpless Navas. The brace aside, Torres completed a dribble, won two ground duels, and drew a foul.