“Pass, move, pass” remains the motto for a Spanish side that beat Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday.
The headlines before the match were about the lack of a reliable goalscorer for Spain. Coach Luis Enrique initially opted to start without a true striker. But, Spain’s possession-based DNA always gets them far in knock-out competitions with their last Euro outing ending in an unlucky semi-final defeat. This was a worry for the Costa Ricans who almost didn’t qualify for this world cup and boast an age range from 35-year-old Keylor Navas to 18-year-old Jewison Bennette.
Indeed, Spain had the best world cup game in their history with a ridiculous 7-0 scoreline. From the first half, there was a dominant display from the La Rojas as Spain broke the record for most passes completed in one half at 1043 to Costa Ricas 231. The entire game the Costa Ricans didn’t even attempt any shots, as the Spanish put forth a slow but mesmerizing attacking display.
Dani Olmo gave the Spanish their deserved lead after a passing move that seemed to last forever. Tiki taka, tiki taka, tiki taka until eventually Gavi’s scooped pass deflected towards Olmo in the area. He controlled it delightfully on the turn and flipped it over the outrushing Navas.
The stand-in false nine Asensio would double that lead as Alba’s precise cross found him 12 yards out. He watched the bounce carefully to drive a first-time shot through the diving Navas.
The Spanish continue to run riot with the off-balance Costa Rican defender Duarte having to desperately kick Alba’s heel in an attempt to get the ball. A soft penalty was given which Torres converted in style.
The second half was more of the same. Ferran Torres grabbed his second goal from a Costa Rican blunder. Gavi’s sharp cutback found Torres on the edge of the area. He ran into traffic and lost the ball, but two Costa Rican defenders dithered and Torres was able to steal it back before shooting past Navas on the turn.
The game wouldn’t end there. Spain would get their fifth with a marvellous strike from their teenage midfielder: Gavi.
Balde went on a thrilling run infield and slid the ball through to Morata. Navas dived bravely at his feet but Morata retrieved the ball on the left side of the area, turned and lofted a pass to Gavi. He ran onto the ball, 12 yards out, and flicked a beautiful volley into the bottom corner. Gavi’s technique to control the shot, slicing it ever so slightly with the outside of the foot, was immaculate.
Substitute Williams roasted Matarrita and drove a perfect cross into a dangerous area for Spain’s 6th goal. Navas had to go for it but could only push it to Soler, and he swept the ball nonchalantly into the net.
And the final goal would come from Morata who received the ball on the edge of the area with his back to the goal. He created a bit of space by playing a wall pass with Dani Olmo and then threaded a low left-footed shot past Navas.
As much there is to compliment the Spanish’s ferocity, the Costa Ricans would have to reflect on the most abysmal display in the 2022 World Cup. Spain will face rivals Germany next Sunday, while Costa Rica will play Germany next Thursday.