Eassyway – Spain smash Cyprus to continue Euro 2024 qualifying recovery

RTL Today – Spain smash Cyprus to continue Euro 2024 qualifying recovery

Spain thumped Cyprus 6-0 on Tuesday to keep their Euro 2024 qualification bid firmly on track after an early setback against Scotland.

La Roja followed up their hammering of Georgia with another hefty victory to stay second, two points ahead of Norway in Group A, having played a game less.

However Spain still trail leaders Scotland, who inflicted an early defeat on Luis de la Fuente’s side and have won all five of their matches so far.

Substitute Ferran Torres struck twice for Spain, while Gavi, Mikel Merino, Joselu and debutant Alex Baena were also on target.

“Our objective is clear — win the rest of the games,” De la Fuente told Spanish broadcasters TVE.

“We want to finish top of the group.”

Lamine Yamal, who became Spain’s youngest player and goalscorer in the 7-1 win in Tbilisi last week, became their youngest ever starter at 16 years and 61 days old.

With Marco Asensio and Dani Olmo injured against Georgia, Yamal and Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams started on the flanks, as De la Fuente also brought Merino in for Fabian Ruiz.

Both sides stood for a moment of silence to honour victims of the earthquake in Morocco and flooding in Libya.

Spain presented the Nations League trophy they won in June to fans in Granada, although that success was soon forgotten after the women’s team won the World Cup and then the Luis Rubiales kiss scandal overshadowed everything.

The former federation president resigned from his post on Sunday and interim president Pedro Rocha watched on as Spain gradually dismantled an initially stubborn Cyprus side.

La Roja took the lead after 18 minutes when Williams burst down the left and crossed for Gavi, wearing a skull cap after an ear injury with Barcelona, to stroke home at the near post.

The Athletic winger set up the second too, with a delectable cross to the back post for Real Sociedad midfielder Merino, a Basque derby rival at club level, to head home.

Morata turned home the third after Yamal hit the post but the Atletico Madrid forward, who netted a hat-trick against Georgia, was offside.

– ‘In the clouds’ –

Williams hobbled off with an apparent thigh injury and was replaced by winger Yeremy Pino just before half-time.

Another substitute, Joselu, headed home the third from Real Madrid team-mate Dani Carvajal’s cross.

The Los Blancos defender also set up the fourth, for Barcelona’s Torres, who continued his recent good form at club level with a cool low finish.

De la Fuente sent on Villarreal midfielder Baena on for his debut and a minute later he netted the fifth from close range after a clever Joselu backheel.

“I’m in the clouds, for any Spanish player to debut for the national team is a dream since we were young, it’s the highest level,” said Baena.

“With a goal on top … when I scored I couldn’t believe it.”

Torres, called up to replace the injured Asensio, struck again to seal the rout as Cyprus lost their discipline, sprinting into the box to collect a ball over the top and sweeping home with aplomb.

“You have to work at your club to get the chance to come to the national team … but every time I’m lucky enough to come here I want to show what I’m capable of,” Barcelona winger Torres told TVE.

“I am working trying to make sure I take advantage of the minutes I get, to get the confidence of the coach, and I think I’m on the right track.”

Questions over De la Fuente’s position raised by the Scotland defeat now seem distant, with 13 goals in two qualifying matches also answering complaints that Spain lack firepower.

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