Spain began their World Cup campaign with a display of total dominance over Costa Rica, racking up a historic 7-0 win – their biggest ever in a World Cup – to provide an early statement about their tournament credentials.
Kick-off came only hours after Japan had pulled off a shock 2-1 win over Germany in the other game in Group E but there was never any possibility of another upset at Al Thumama Stadium, with Luis Enrique’s side in complete control from the outset.
Spain’s dominance was such that they could have already been ahead by the time Dani Olmo scored their 11th-minute opener, the RB Leipzig forward lifting a deft finish over Keylor Navas from Gavi’s pass having earlier flashed a low effort just wide.
Spain started the game without an out-and-out striker but it proved no hindrance as Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, playing as a false nine, swiftly doubled their lead from Jordi Alba’s low pick-out.
Costa Rica were left shell-shocked by Spain’s start and the pattern of the game continued to follow the same lines, with Ferran Torres scoring from the penalty spot after Oscar Duarte had felled Alba.
The game was effectively over as a contest at that point but Spain’s appetite for goals remained insatiable, with Torres adding the fourth after the break when dismal Costa Rica defending gave him a second chance after his initial shot was blocked.
The fourth goal signalled the first in a raft of Spain changes, with Torres and the brilliant Pedri substituted with Sunday’s game against Germany in mind, but their dominance continued.
18 – Aged 18 years and 110 days, Gavi is the youngest goalscorer in a World Cup match since Pelé in the 1958 final against Sweden (17y 249d). Prodigy. pic.twitter.com/68uSD6IPnq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 23, 2022
Morata blazed wide having sprung the Costa Rica offside trap but Spain did not have to wait long for their fifth goal, Gavi capping another outstanding individual performance with a wonderful strike, hit with the outside of his boot from the edge of the box and bouncing in off the post.
That goal came from a Morata cross and the former Chelsea striker eventually got one of his own, playing a clever one-two with Olmo before slotting a left-footed finish past the hapless Navas.
Moments before that goal, Soler, of Paris Saint-Germain, had added the sixth when he pounced on a loose ball after a low cross from fellow substitute Nico Williams was palmed into the danger zone by Navas.
Spain will of course face far sterner tests than this, starting against Germany on Sunday, but their performance was nonetheless an ominous show of strength at a tournament in which some of the other favourites – Argentina as well as Germany – are already faltering.