In a game that has been anticipated since the draw was made as both a display and to resolve the summit of Group G, Italy went into disrepair while Julen Lopetegui’s side placed in maybe their best execution under his supervision. The return game in Italy had completed in a goalless stalemate however following 14 minutes, we were guaranteed that a drag draw would not be repeated.
Marco Asensio, making his first competitive international start, was brought around Leonardo Bonucci outside the crate and Isco stepped up to guide the free perfectly over the wall and beyond Gianluigi Buffon’s reach. Two superb strikes from Isco and a late goal from Alvaro Morata gave Spain a spectacular 3-0 win over Italy, its nearest challenger in Group G, to move into the driving seat for automatic qualification to the 2018 World Cup.
Real Madrid assaulting midfielder Isco, who was conveyed in a “false nine” position as a deep-lying striker. Twisted a free kick beyond the reach of veteran Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to put Spain ahead in the 13th minute at the Bernabeu Stadium here.
Isco then received the ball on the edge of the area and danced past a defender before cracking a low shot into the near bottom corner which again proved too quick for Buffon five minutes before half-time. Spain’s international team ruled the world for a period under Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque, but the 2010 World Cup winners didn’t have such an enjoyable time of things in 2014, crashing out in the group stages in Brazil after just one win from three games.
Just over an hour to go until the biggest game of the weekend kicks off, Spain Versus Italy, finishing touches and we will be ready to go pic.twitter.com/EyzGnRDDxc
— Paul Burgess (@paul_pburgess) September 2, 2017
The recovery of the team has begun since then, quickened after another unfortunate display at Euro 2016, Now under the lead of mentor Julen Lopetegui, Spain is once again looking fit for testing the best sides for real respects for the 2018 finals in Russia. With still more than a whole season to play, foreseeing the last 23-man squad who go to compete at the finals is a precarious attempt, and normally one that depends on the eccentric conditions of wellness come next June.
Even so, watching the development of certain players and how the team is set up under the manager, we can be reasonably confident of selecting a squad that could see La Roja once again crowned the best in the world. Substitute Morata created a sublime counter-assault with Sergio Ramos to begin and complete the move for the third objective which he opened past previous Juventus colleague Buffon 13 minutes from time, adjusting off Spain’s best execution against Italy since the 4-0 win in the Euro 2012 last.
“He [Isco] had a magnificent game, just like the rest of his teammates,” Spain coach Julen Lopetegui said.
“He unblocked the game, scored two fantastic goals and was very good at pressing. He’s getting more games and as a result he’s growing, maturing and polishing his talent. He’s a great footballer,” added Lopetegui.
Spain tops Group G on 19 points, three ahead of Italy and seven clear of Albania, which beat basement side Liechtenstein 2-0 on Saturday. Macedonia pulled off a surprise 1-0 victory at Israel but is still three points behind it in fifth place.
Last Spain game at Bernabeu 1-0 v Colombia in Feb 2011. Last comp game 1-0 v Turkey in 09 WC qualifier – Pique scored goal [and was cheered]
— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) September 2, 2017
The continued absence of top scorer Diego Costa and the explosive form of Marco Asensio compelled coach Julen Lopetegui to imitate his predecessor Vicente del Bosque and play without a recognized striker, a move which paid off to perfection.
Italy, shorn of influential defender Giorgio Chiellini and fielding four forwards which left little presence in midfield, lacked the intensity needed to counter Spain’s passing machine.
Isco may have given Spain its firepower but it created chances from all areas, with Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, and Ramos all not far from scoring in the first half, while Italy’s only effort was a header from Andrea Belotti which David de Gea saved.
Meanwhile, in Africa, Zambia overcame conceding a goal and having a player sent off inside 60 seconds to score a historic 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Algeria in Lusaka on Saturday.
Success gave the southern Africa nation a glimmer of hope in a mini-league being dominated by Nigeria, which had thrashed African champion Cameroon 4-0 on Friday. Nigeria has a most extreme nine points after three rounds, Zambia four, Cameroon two and 2014 World Cup last-16 qualifier Algeria only one.
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) September 2, 2017
A bit of commentary (Spain vs Italy), if you missed the mains :
90’+2’No time left. Spain beat Italy 3-0. That was comprehensive.
90’+2′ One last chance for De Gea to show off his skills. Gabbiadini in around the back and De Gea stands tall, saved and Italy again searching for that first goal!
90′ Morata breaks down the left. Stops, goes again, and then shoots. Wide!
90′ And the same for Villa. A true Spanish legend.
90′ Villa replaying Isco. A rousing round of applause for the Malagueño.
88′ Spinazzola forces a save from De Gea. Excellent save. Italy foiled again.
86′ Cheers as David Villa looks set to come on. Some of the biggest cheers of the night. A legend!
82′ Morata and Spinazzola on the ground. The Italian ran into the back of him and seemed to hurt his ankle. Both back up and back on though.
82′ Ramos hits one on the bounce with his left foot. Wide.
81′ Spain not happy with 3-0. Morata breaks free and then turns. Busquets plays it to Carvajal and he wins a corner. Bernabeu is loud at the moment!
79’Gabbiadini replaces Ciro Immobile.
78’Asensio replaced by Saul Ñiguez.
77’Game, set and match! Ramos and Morata break free. Morata plays it to Ramos and continues his run into the box. Ramos crosses and Morata finishes to the roof of the net. Game over!
75′ Darmian takes it down but Spain force them back again.
73′ Isco is on fire. He plays Morata through but the Chelsea striker is pushed off the ball too easily by Barzagli.
73′ This has turned into somewhat of a stalemate. Spain comfortable and Italy had zero ideas.
72’Morata returns to the Bernabeu. He replaces Iniesta.
71′ You get the sense that Spain are toying with Italy now. Asensio handles the ball but before that, Iniesta and Isco involved in some lovely passing.
70’Double change for Italy. Bernardeschi and Eder on for Candreva and Belotti.
68′ What a chance. Isco loses two Italian players and then spreads it to Carvajal. His first touch is lovely but as he tries to chip Buffon, the Juventus keeper gets a hand to it.
66′ Candreva with a shot. Straight over the crossbar. And a bit wide too.
65′ Candreva looks for Immobile and Spain win again.
63′ Darmian with a little clip at the heels of Asensio. Free Spain. Ventura getting upset on the sideline.
62′ Carvajal with a talking to as he fouls Insigne. Just goes in slightly late.
61′ Some patience on display for Spain. It pays off too as Silva sees a chance and he strikes. Blocked before it falls to Koke soon after. He strike just over Buddon’s crossbar.
59′ Game suffering now. Spain in no hurry to open up and push for a third. Italy have no chance of getting even one, based on what we have seen so far. Spain content.
59′ Jordi Alba fouls Candreva.
57′ Another frustrated pass from Italy. They’re forcing the issue now but Spain holding very firm. Barely been breached tonight.
55′ Asensio brushes off the cobwebs from his left foot and strikes. Buffon has it covered but makes him think. Whizzes wide.
53′ Candreva wins Italy a corner. Belotti at the back post as Barzagli sends it back towards goal. He heads it over.
52′ Italy with a little more possession but still not doing much to hurt Spain.
51′ Immobile wants to get on the score sheet but he’s offside from a Candreva flick.
49′ De Gea saves from Innsigne. Candreva follows up with a shot from the rebound but he hits it very awkwardly. Ball hits Belotti, then Busquets and lands in De Gea’s palms.
48′ Ramos wants a penalty from the corner. He jumps highest and falls but nothing much in it.
47′ Isco wins it back. Silva puts pressure on Barzagli and wins a corner. Barzagli might have run himself into trouble for that one.
47′ Jordi Alba looks for Isco. He finds him but is in between two Italian defenders. Hard for him to control.
46′ We have action.
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) September 2, 2017
Spain back out on the field. Joined by Italy. No changes for either side, it seems.
Reports from the stadium suggest it’s 75% cheers for Piqué and 25% boos. The hardcore Real Madrid fans.
Lovely finish. If Asensio doesn’t do the business, Isco very well will.
45′ Half-time at the Isco show. What a display by Spain. Isco with a couple of goals. They have been magnificent.
43′ Italian fans unhappy with the way their side has set up too.
43′ Italy have no response. Spain have been excellent.
40’GOAL! ISCO! What a finish. Asensio to Iniesta and Isco then outside the box. He puts it onto his left and strikes low and out of Buffon’s reach.
39′ Jordi Alba has an issue with his eye. He isn’t happy with the ref for missing it. He’s saying it was an elbow but the replays show there was nothing in it.
38′ Italy breakd and Iniesta intercepts a pass. Asensio and Isco link up befoe they turn around and give it to Iniesta.
38′ Silva delivers but it’s coming down on top of Ramos and even if he can reach it, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything from it.
37′ Busquets spreads it out wide to Asensio but he loses control of it. Italy can do nothing with it either as Carvajal breaks. He has no options ahead of him so he strikes and has his shot deflected out for a corner. Close!
35′ Silva offside. He was in acres of space but had strayed just beyong the halfway line. Iniesta with the vision and the pass to match. Silva very unlucky.
34′ Spinazzola takes off and is fouled by Busquets. It might have been his own speed that put him off balance there and that’s what Busquets argues. Free nonetheless.
31′ A comedy of erros. Belotti struggles to get the ball under control a number of times… he was offside and the ref blows the whistle as he continues to push forward. Everyone else stops before Belotti realises the play is dead. Replays show he was not offside!
30′ Dodgy kick-out is nearly intercepted by David Silva.
28′ Italy with a spell but Ramos clears with the bicycle kick. All Belotti has to do is put his head near that and it’s a penalty for a high foot.
26′ Spain win it back and Koke delivers a lovely cross. Ramos’ centre-half partner, Gerard Piqué heads over. Lovely cross by Koke.
26′ Ramos making a move from the corner. It flies over his head.
25′ Pressure from Spain almost leads to a howler. Veratti plays it back to Buffon but it comes off his foot as he tries to control it up high. He gives away the corner.
24′ Candreva with the delivery. De Rossi close but Ramos heads it away. Immobile with the foul and Spain can clear.
23′ Jordi Alba fouls Candreva and Italy with a chance for a cross.
22′ Darmian delivers a lovely cross. Belotti does really well to get the header away and De Gea saves. More of a reflex save but in a perfect position to make it.
21′ Italy sitting deep and doing quite well to prevent Spain from breaking through. That goal hurts them but the don’t seem too concerned as yet.
20′ Isco fouls Darmian after some good, but slightly stale, possession.
17′ Veratti fouled by Isco. He has a shout at the ref too, who isn’t happy with his display after the free.
15′ Italy trying to respond. They need to come out of their shell now. That goal will help this game to open up. Although Spain doing their best to do that since the start.
13′ That is sublime.
13’Isco! GOAL! He strikes the free-kick and finishes. What a lovely strike. Buffon stretching but no luck.
12′ Iniesta with the perfect ball through Italy’s defense. Bonucci slightly cynical there and it might have been red. The ball might have gotten away from Asensio so not a clear-cut chance.
12’Bonucci takes down Asensio and gets booked.
11′ Koke sends Carvajal free and he cuts inside but overcooks his first touch. Italy win it back before Spain squeeze them and win it back themselves.
11′ Spain win it back and bring it back down. Italy revert to their defensive shape.
10′ Ramos heads away a Darmian cross. throw for Italy.
9′ Carvajal does well by keeping up with Insigne as he tkes off down the left. Pique joins in to help but they concede the free.
7′ Ramos takes it and puts it over. Asesnio the man of the moment and he probably should have hit that one.
7′ Asensio and Ramos lining this up.
7′ Koke fouled now by De Rossi just outside the penalty area.
5′ Candreva moving down the right but his through ball looking for a teammate is too heavy. Goal-kick to Spain.
4’Busquets fouled by Veratti. And the PSG player is booked. Very early for that.
4′ Spain with close to 99% possession so far.
3′ Jordi Alba squares to Iniesta on the break but it’s too far away from him.
2′ Asensio puts Barzagli under pressure. Too much pressure as he pushed him in the back. Free to Italy.
1′ Seems like the Bernabeu is split. Some cheeting Pique and others whistling him.
1′ Ramos launches it long. Carvajal running down the wing but no chance of getting to that.
1′ Piqué with the ball and he’s being whistled already.
1′ We are underway!
Also, Some of the main highlights :
THE CLUB NOW DOMINATES
— Saúl Ñiguez Esclapez (@saulniguez) September 2, 2017