Spain Defeat Italy 3-0 in 2018 World Cup Qualifier; Isco Earns Brace

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2017

Italy's forward Lorenzo Insigne (C) vies with Spain's midfielder Isco (R) during the World Cup 2018 qualifier football match Spain vs Italy at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain defeated Italy in UEFA Group G qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, prevailing 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Saturday.

The Italians were in trouble after just 13 minutes, as Isco curled a free-kick past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Isco grabbed his brace five minutes before half-time, finding the bottom corner from the edge of the box and sparking celebrations.

Alvaro Morata arrived as a late substitute, and the Chelsea player made it 3-0 after 77 minutes in a comprehensive victory.

BeIN Sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri commented on Italy's formation:

Tancredi Palmeri @tancredipalmeri

Italy playing vs Spain with 4-2-4! Real one! First time ever in the history! This is madness. Let's see if creative or destructive one

Despite missing Diego Costa, Spain were on the front foot from the opening stages, as Marco Asensio was picked ahead of Morata. Koke was also included in the starting XI ahead of Thiago Alcantara.

The hosts played with confidence as Italy appeared static, and Spain were rewarded after 13 minutes when Isco struck. The Los Blancos midfielder had the crowd on its feet, hitting his free-kick with expert precision.

Italy were lame through the first half, and Spain passed the ball with their famous style of tiki-taka play that's brought so much success in the modern era.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Isco Alarcon of Spain scores his team's opening goal goal from a free kick during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis D
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
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Isco doubled his personal tally shortly before the interval, with Italy pinned back in defence and reeling. He collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and after making a yard of space, he put his strike wide of Buffon's dive.

It was all Spain deserved at the half-time whistle, and Italy seemed lost in their tactical challenge.

B/R Football hailed Isco's world-class performance:

B/R Football @brfootball

Isco is on 🔥 tonight https://t.co/tBQy5217jq

Italy improved little in the second half, and goalkeeper David De Gea was hardly tested as Andrea Belotti lacked service.

Isco's influence in the middle of the park remained undeniable, and the home crowd were jubilant as their team strutted.

Buffon made a crucial save from Dani Carvajal as the right-back attempted to lift the ball over the veteran, but the Italians were deteriorating fast.

The game was settled with 13 minutes remaining as quality work from Sergio Ramos opened up the visitors once again.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02:  Alvaro Morata of Spain (L) celebrates with his team mates David Silva (2ndL) Sergio Ramos (C) and Marco Asensio of Spain after scoring his team's third goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Spain and Italy at
David Ramos/Getty Images

Ramos' pinpoint ball was met by Morata, who tapped home at the far post.

The three points were never in doubt, and the hosts cantered to victory in the final exchanges of the match.

Isco has emerged as one of the top midfielders in Europe in the past 12 months, and the Spanish star has matured as one of the continent's most consistent talents.


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