Isco double ends Italy’s long record
FOOTBALL: Spain coach Julen Lopetegui praised the adaptability of his side after they overcame Italy 3-0 at the Bernabeu to move clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group G.
Lopetegui opted to deploy Manchester City midfielder David Silva in the false nine role, with Chelsea’s £60m forward Alvaro Morata and recalled veteran striker David Villa left on the bench.
It proved, though, a positive tactic as Italy were overrun by the movement across midfield and through the channels. Real Madrid midfielder Isco scored twice on his home ground, clipping home a 13th-minute free-kick before doubling Spain’s lead with a low strike just before half-time.
While Italy – who had not lost a qualifying tie for a major championships since September 2006, a run of more than 50 games – improved for the second half, the Azzurri could not find a way back into the match.
Morata came off the bench to tap in a third with 13 minutes left.
“I’ve always been very sure of the players. It was a hardworked victory. I am very happy for the level shown against a great team like Italy,” Lopetegui said.
“Italy are a very complicated team, but we have been able to match them. Our performance was very high.”