Spain, England show dominant form in friendly wins

A Coruña, Spain, Mar 29 (EFE).- Spain unleashed their offensive firepower in a 5-0 thrashing of Iceland here Tuesday, while England got a first-half goal and an assist from Raheem Sterling in a 3-0 rout of Ivory Coast at Wembley Stadium.

La Roja needed just over a half hour to get on the scoreboard before completely outclassing their rivals over the final 60 minutes.

Alvaro Morata, the only Spanish player to start both Saturday’s game against Albania and again on Tuesday, scored a brace at Riazor Stadium.

The Juventus player’s first goal came in minute 36 on a right-footed shot that had been set up by a through pass by Hugo Guillamon, while he converted a penalty opportunity three minutes later after Dani Olmo had been fouled in the area.

Iceland, now in clear rebuild mode after being one of the great stories in world soccer in the second half of the 2010s, was unable to close the floodgates after the intermission.

Yeremi Pino made the score 3-0 with a header in the 47th minute.

Spain then showed its impressive depth by sending on Ferran Torres, Pablo Sarabia and Marcos Alonso and continuing to dominate just as comfortably.

Sarabia scored a pair of goals in the area in minutes 61 and 72, both of which were assisted by Alonso.

Afterward, Spanish head coach Luis Enrique was asked about the difficult choices he will face later this year in deciding which players will compete for La Roja in the UEFA Nations League in June and September and then in the World Cup in November and December in Qatar.

He insisted that the problem is a good one to have, adding that the important thing is that players who are called up arrive with the mindset of contributing to the team’s success “no matter if they are starters, come off the bench or don’t play.”

Elsewhere, England dominated from start to finish in London and opened the scoring at the half-hour mark when Sterling maneuvered around a defender on the left side and then scooted a pass into the area for a tap-in goal by Ollie Watkins at the goal mouth.

The Manchester City winger then added a goal of his own just seconds before halftime when he deposited a cross from Citizens teammate Jack Grealish into the back of the net.

Five minutes earlier, any chance the visitors had of remaining competitive with the Three Lions evaporated when defender Serge Aurier was sent off for two yellow cards.

Playing with numerical superiority in the second half, England completely dominated possession and seemed likely to pad their lead when a penalty was awarded in their favor. But the call was subsequently overturned by VAR.

Harry Kane, who is tied for second on England’s all-time scoring list with 49 goals in international play, entered the game just after the hour mark but was unable to edge closer to Wayne Rooney’s record (53 goals).

The home side did add to its lead in the waning seconds of the contest when Tyrone Mings headed home a corner kick sent in by Phil Foden.

Afterward, England’s head coach, Gareth Southgate, complimented several players on their performances and particularly highlighted the contributions of Sterling and Grealish.

“Nice for Ollie to get his goal. It’s a real plus. But I thought Jack and Raheem were the two that provided the real top quality,” he said. EFE


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