Spain crush Liechtenstein to close in on World Cup spot

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Spain crush Liechtenstein to close in on World Cup spot

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By Rik Sharma (Reuters) – Spain hammered Liechtenstein 8-0 as Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas both struck twice to maintain their country’s lead over Italy at the top of World Cup qualifying Group G on Tuesday. The victory in Vaduz took Spain to 22 points from eight games, three ahead of the Italians who beat Israel 1-0 in Tel Aviv thanks to Ciro Immobile’s second-half strike. The winners of the nine European groups qualify directly for Russia while the best eight of the second-placed teams take part in two-leg playoffs for four more places. Julen Lopetegui’s Spain side scored three goals in the first 16 minutes to ensure the rest of the game was a formality against the overwhelmed hosts. Spain beat Liechtenstein by the same score in Lopetegui’s first match in charge last year, and this was another example of the verve and style he has his team playing with. The Spanish took control from the start with Sergio Ramos heading home David Silva’s free-kick from close range in the third minute. Chelsea striker Morata netted the second in the 15th, nodding in Andres Iniesta’s cross, before Liechtenstein goalkeeper Peter Jehle put the third goal on a plate for midfielder Isco with a horrific mis-kick. David Silva netted the fourth with a free-kick that flew into the top corner before Michele Polverino missed Liechtenstein’s only clear chance of the game. A poor pass by Spain keeper David De Gea gave Liechtenstein the ball in the area, but midfielder Polverino fired straight at the Manchester United stopper when well placed. Halftime substitute Aspas scored from point-blank range in the 51st after Morata’s header hit the bar and bounced down to him, as Spain refused to let up after the interval. Aspas repaid the favour three minutes later, teeing up Morata for his second with a cleverly disguised pass, before netting again himself with a fierce drive inside the near post. Liechtenstein’s Maximilian Goppel flicked Spain forward Gerard Deulofeu’s low cross past his own goalkeeper in the 89th minute to end a miserable night for the home side.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)
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