Teen Gavi leads Spain to 7-0 World Cup win over Costa Rica – The Denver Post

By TALES AZZONI (AP sportswriter)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Not since Pelé in 1958 had a player as young as Gavi scored at the World Cup.

The 18-year-old midfielder led the way on Wednesday as Spain celebrated the biggest World Cup win in their history, beating Costa Rica 7-0.

“I could never have imagined that,” said Gavi, who was named the game’s MVP. “I know I’m the youngest on the team and I respect everyone, but it’s different on the field and I’m doing my best.”

Pelé scored twice in the 1958 final when Brazil won their first World Cup by beating Sweden 5-2.

“I’m proud to be on this podium,” he said. “I hadn’t imagined that even in my dreams.”

Gavi was only able to score one goal on Wednesday but his teammates added many more.

Shortly after Japan surprised Germany 2-1 in their other Group E game, Spain’s young side avoided any chance of an upset as Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres all scored in the first half. Torres, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Álvaro Morata all contributed to the lead in the second half.

In addition to Gavi’s goal, Olmo’s goal was the 100th at World Cups for “La Roja”, who became the sixth nation to score more than 100 goals at the tournament.

It was the first time Spain had scored seven goals in a World Cup game and the first time a team had completed 1,000 passes in a 90-minute game at the tournament.

“Our only aim is to constantly control the game and to do that you have to have the ball,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique.

With Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri in the starting XI, Spain also became the first European nation with two teenagers to start a World Cup game in 60 years, according to statistics platform Opta.

Gavi and Pedri were among the many youngsters picked by Luis Enrique for a revamped squad in Qatar – the third youngest team among the 32 nations after the United States and Ghana.

The young duo helped Spain control the pace of the game at Al Thumama Stadium from the start. 22-year-old Torres, who is dating coach Luis Enrique’s daughter, scored his first World Cup goal from the penalty spot in the 31st minute. The others came during the game.

“If things go like this, football will be wonderful,” said Luis Enrique. “We played exceptionally well with and without the ball.”

Costa Rica, in their third straight World Cup season, looked overwhelmed throughout the game, not missing a single shot on goal. The team came to Qatar hoping to repeat their surprise quarter-finals in Brazil in 2014 and avoid a repeat of their winless performance in Russia four years ago.

“We didn’t keep the ball like we should have,” said Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez. “We couldn’t complete three or four rounds.”

The Spanish players made it look easy with the ball at their feet and finished the game with 72% possession.

Spain, who didn’t get past the round of 16 in Russia, are trying to break through with a major title after reaching the final of the Nations League and the semi-finals of last year’s European Championship. That year also saw the team qualify for the Nations League Final Four for the second year in a row. Spain’s last major triumph came at Euro 2012, two years after they won their only World Cup in South Africa.

Only five countries have scored more goals than Spain at the World Cup – Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and France.

Spain meet four-time world champions Germany on Sunday in one of the most anticipated matches of the World Cup.


AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni


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