Spain back on form, routs Georgia 4-0 in World Cup qualifier
Pablo Sarabia took the place of injured Gerard Moreno in attack.The biggest surprise was in the inclusion of 21-year-old Abel Ruiz, a Braga forward who made his debut for Spain in June in a game that youth players played while its top squad was quarantined due to a COVID-19 outbreak scare before the European Championship.The moves paid off against the overmatched Georgia.Gay opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Llorente set up Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres to decide the game before halftime.
The game against the modest rival had become an almost must-win affair for Spain after its disappointing loss at Sweden on Thursday that cost it first place in Europe's Group B. Only the top team automatically qualifies for the tournament in Qatar in November 2022 with the group runners-up having to go through playoffs. The victory in Badajoz on Sunday left Spain with 10 points in the group. Sweden has nine, but also has two more games to play.
Out went veterans Álvaro Morata, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and Koke Resurrección. In came José Gayà in defense, and Rodri Hernández and Marcos Llorente in midfield. Pablo Sarabia took the place of injured Gerard Moreno in attack.
The biggest surprise was in the inclusion of 21-year-old Abel Ruiz, a Braga forward who made his debut for Spain in June in a game that youth players played while its top squad was quarantined due to a COVID-19 outbreak scare before the European Championship.
The moves paid off against the overmatched Georgia.
“Today we wanted to do things right after the last game we let our three points slip away,” Llorente said. “It was important for us to get a convincing win, and in front of our fans.” Gayà scored when a clearance fell to him outside the area. His shot took a deflection off Georgia's Guram Kashia that left goalkeeper Giorgi Loria out of position to save.
Soler netted in the 25th when Llorente dribbled to the end-line on the right side and squared the ball into the area. Soler arrived from his midfield position unmarked and used his left foot to beat Loria.
Llorente again beat Georgia's defense with his speed down the flank before passing back into the six-yard box for Torres to strike from an angle.
Sarabia scored following a counterattack in the 63rd after he exchanged passes with substitute Pablo Fornals.
Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sánchez made his debut for Spain as a late substitute. He had been used as a backup for several months by Luis Enrique but had yet to play with Simón well established as the top goalkeeper.
Both Gayà and Aymeric Laporte were substituted for apparent injuries, putting in doubt their availability for Wednesday's match at Kosovo.
“It may have looked easy, but I can tell you it was not,” Luis Enrique said about the win. “If you don't press Georgia hard, they won't give you the ball. We played a good game and overran them on the wings. We could have score more.” GREECE HELD A stoppage-time goal by Vedat Muriqi snatched Kosovo a 1-1 draw at home to Greece.
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