Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 for their biggest ever winning margin at a World Cup, helped by two goals by Ferran Torres and strikes by five other players to send a resounding message to the rest of the teams in Qatar.
Spain were mindful of the shock defeats suffered by Argentina and Group E rivals Germany against lower opposition in their opening matches and they tormented Costa Rica from the start, going 3-0 up after little more than 30 minutes. Dani Olmo got the goals flowing in the 11th minute when he exchanged passes with Gavi and chipped Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Ten minutes later, Marco Asensio timed a run into the box perfectly to connect powerfully with a Jordi Alba cross.
Torres stroked home his penalty in the 31st minute and the Barcelona winger claimed his second in the 54th when he took advantage of hesitant defending. Gavi, the youngest player to represent Spain at a World Cup, struck with a perfectly hit volley in the 74th minute before substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata rounded off a totally one-sided encounter.
Spain vs Costa Rica updates
GOAL! Soler extends lead further
GOAL! Gavi volleys fifth for Spain
GOAL! Torres gets second of the match
GOAL! Torres dispatches penalty
GOAL! Asensio sweeps home Alba’s cross
GOAL! Olmo gives Spain deserved lead
Spain 7 - 0 Costa Rica
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18:43 , Matt Verri
Spain cruised past Costa Rica in one of the most one-sided World Cup matches in recent memory as they got their Group E campaign up and running with a 7-0 victory.
After shock defeats for Argentina and Germany already in the tournament, Costa Rica were the latest underdog to step up and try and continue that run, but the challenge put up was barely worthy a training session.
Dani Olmo and Marco Asensio got the party started for Spain, before Ferran Torres struck either side of half-time and Gavi added a wonderful fifth. Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata gave the scoreline some added gloss in the final moments, reflecting what was an utterly dominant display.
Attention now turns to this weekend’s clash against Germany, who know they need a result after their defeat to Japan.
Souness not impressed!
18:24 , Matt Verri
"I could have played where Busquets did today!"
Graeme Souness still fancies himself in the midfield role having just seen that Costa Rica performance... 👀#ITVFootball | #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/7mmR94Zg8F
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 23, 2022
Costa Rica so poor...
18:13 , Matt Verri
Spain superb of course, but that from Costa Rica was woeful.
They managed 18% of possession and did not have a single shot in the match. Never mind on target, not a shot of any kind!
Special finish from a special player!
18:02 , Matt Verri
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 23, 2022
FT: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica
17:59 , Matt Verri
Well that was as easy a match as Spain will ever have.
They score seven in a World Cup match for the first time ever, and that is about as good as Costa Rica could have hoped for with that performance.
17:55 , Matt Verri
90+5 mins: Costa Rica pinned back again, Spain still pushing. They probably only need another five minutes to get this up to ten the way it’s going.
Safe to say there has been no upset this evening, and it’s never looked likely from the first seconds.
GOAL! Spain 7-0 Costa Rica | Alvaro Morata 90+2'
17:53 , Matt Verri
Eight minutes added on!
Heartless. Spain still pushing, can they go one better than England and get seven?
YES! Morata the latest to get on the scoresheet, lovely one two with Olmo and then fires it past Navas at the near post.
GOAL! Spain 6-0 Costa Rica | Carlos Soler 90'
17:50 , Matt Verri
Soler gets in on the act!
Low cross into the box, Navas palms it straight out and Soler lifts it into the empty net.
17:46 , Matt Verri
86 mins: Balde in space on the left, cuts it back to Olmo who has a crazy amount of space in the box.
Looks to lift it towards the back post, eventually the white shirts come to close him down. Laporte then clatters Campbell in the air for a welcome foul for Costa Rica.
17:43 , Matt Verri
83 mins: Spain not far off 1000 passes now in the match, decent chance they will get there with the match now at walking pace.
Tough to read too much into this, considering Costa Rica have not put up anything resembling a fight, but Spain have looked really sharp.
17:40 , Matt Verri
80 mins: Gavi has decided to square up to Waston, who is about three times his size. Admirable.
His team-mate wisely pull him away from that particular clash, safe to say he wouldn’t be winning that.
17:38 , Matt Verri
77 mins: Spain still look like they want more, Costa Rica on their knees begging for the final whistle. Surely we won’t have the now standard seven or eight minutes added on...
Free-kick for Costa Rica just inside the Spain half, they’re in no rush to take it.
GOAL! Spain 5-0 Costa Rica | Gavi 74'
17:35 , Matt Verri
FIVE FOR SPAIN!
That’s a lovely finish. Morata in behind, goes round the goalkeeper but the angle is too tight.
He checks back, crosses it in for Gavi and it’s a sublime volley with the outside of his boot, in off the inside of the post.
17:32 , Matt Verri
72 mins: Williams is the final change for Spain - his brother is playing for Ghana.
Costa Rica seemingly now pressing more than they have at any other point in the match. Maybe this was the tactic all along...
17:28 , Matt Verri
68 mins: A challenge!
For the first time Costa Rica show some interest in proceedings and it’s a pretty poor one. Calvo goes absolutely flying in, that will be a yellow card.
17:24 , Matt Verri
64 mins: Busquets and Alba off, Koke and Balde on for Spain. Big smile from Enrique as the experienced duo come off.
Focus very much now shifting to the next match, with Germany next up. It’s a match that Germany have to get a result out of.
17:22 , Matt Verri
62 mins: Bryan Ruiz is on for Costa Rica, the former Fulham star is now 37-years-old.
Sure he’s absolutely delighted to be thrown on and tasked with closing these Spanish players down. A thankless task.
17:20 , Matt Verri
60 mins: Olmo keeps the ball in play, flicks it back across the face of goal. Nobody there.
All sorts of passing records are going to be broken here, Laporte and Rodri well into three figures themselves.
17:17 , Matt Verri
57 mins: Torres heartbroken to look across and see his number is up. There will be no hat-trick.
Pedri also coming up. Soler and Morara the two to come on and join the party.
GOAL! Spain 4-0 Costa Rica | Ferran Torres 54'
17:15 , Matt Verri
THE ROUT CONTINUES!
Spain continue to open up Costa Rica at will. Comes from play down the right, cut back to Torres and he bundles his way through a couple of challenges.
Navas comes out, doesn’t get there, Torres is allowed to turn and fire low past the goalkeeper.
17:11 , Matt Verri
51 mins: Gavi wide to Torres, drills it low into the box and it’s just about cleared away before Olmo can run onto it at the back post.
Costa Rica have brought on another centre-back but it’s not making much difference.
17:08 , Matt Verri
48 mins: We’ve picked up from where we left off.
Spain work it forward, Asensio on the edge of the box lets fly as he loses his balance. Balloons the effort over the bar.
17:05 , Matt Verri
Costa Rica need something very special to turn this into something resembling competitive.
17:00 , Matt Verri
Spain completed more passes in that 45 minutes than any other side have managed in the first-half of a World Cup match. Madness.
Laporte has completed 90 passes, Rodri 86, Alba 80, Busquets. It’s been astonishingly easy.
537 - Most successful passes in the 1st half of a World Cup game (since 1966) :
🥇Spain v Costa Rica today - 537
🥈Germany v Japan today - 422
🥉Spain v Russia in 2018 - 395
Tiki-taka. #ESPCRC pic.twitter.com/QKbG4doCzE
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) November 23, 2022
Ton up in style!
16:54 , Matt Verri
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 23, 2022
FT: Spain 3-0 Costa Rica
16:51 , Matt Verri
A beautiful sound for Costa Rica... the half-time whistle.
That was sensational from Spain, regardless of the opposition. So good in possession and they’ve been clinical when the chances have come too.
They can do whatever they want in the second-half, this match is done.
16:49 , Matt Verri
45+4 mins: Referee stops a flowing Spain move, blocking an Asensio pass and then decides not to blow the whistle which almost starts a riot on the touchline.
Eventually he decides that he probably shouldn’t be playing for Costa Rica and pulls play back.
Here come Spain again, Asensio played through and his shot is shanked wide.
16:47 , Matt Verri
45+3 mins: Rodri splits the midfield with a lovely pass through to Gavi, who has drifted into space.
Asensio is the target, can’t quite pick him out for once. Make a note of that.
16:45 , Matt Verri
45 mins: Torres briefly looks to be away on goal, too much on the ball though and Navas can come off his line to claim.
Five minutes added on - now that is cruel.
16:43 , Matt Verri
43 mins: Asensio tries his luck from 25 yards out, clearly got fed up with all of the passing.
A couple of minutes to go until half-time, both sides would probably be happy for the whistle to go now really.
16:40 , Matt Verri
40 mins: This feels unfair, Spain have had the ball for about three minutes and Costa Rica haven’t got anywhere near it. Just popping it around in midfield. Azpilicueta then plays it across the face of goal, nobody there.
Recovered on the oppposite flank though and here they come again. Costa Rica praying we don’t have the now standard four hours of stoppage-time.
16:37 , Matt Verri
38 mins: The Mexican wave is rampant, which is never a great sign for what’s happening on the pitch.
Costa Rica seeing a bit of the ball as Spain ease off, knowing the job is done already. Decent cross into the box, Laporte reads it and heads the ball away.
16:35 , Matt Verri
35 mins: Alba plays the ball down the line, Olmo is in again.
Gets to the byline, his cross is turned behind for a corner. Good defending but it’s all for nothing, offside flag is up. Was very tight.
16:33 , Matt Verri
33 mins: This could get very, very ugly the way it’s going. All that talk of Spain maybe struggling in front of goal...
Free-kick for Costa Rica, Campbell fouled on the touchline. Borges puts it in, doesn’t beat the first man. Deary me.
GOAL! Spain 3-0 Costa Rica | Ferran Torres 31'
16:30 , Matt Verri
Torres skips up and sends Navas the wrong way, rolling it into the bottom corner. Spain are absolutely rampant.
16:29 , Matt Verri
Duarte with the challenge on Alba... penalty!
Bit of a mess from the defender, has a couple of hacks and the second one was the problem. This won’t be overturned.
16:28 , Matt Verri
28 mins: Alba with a lovely nutmeg, gets the crowd going. In fact it might have been two nutmegs in the space of about three seconds. Think that means he gets to keep poor Martinez.
Costa Rica have given up on anything resembling a press, just trying to sit deep and minimise the damage.
16:26 , Matt Verri
26 mins: A brief hint of a Costa Rica counter, Rodri slides in and brings a swift halt to that.
Spain have had almost 85% possession, they’re utterly dominant. It would be the biggest World Cup shock of all time if they lost from here!
16:23 , Matt Verri
23 mins: Here come Spain again, Gavi finds Torres in space out wide.
Low cross into the box, turned behind for a Spain corner. Costa Rica struggling to cope here, to say the least.
Olmo takes, into the near post and it’s hacked away.
GOAL! Spain 2-0 Costa Rica | Marco Asensio 21'
16:21 , Matt Verri
Spain are tearing Costa Rica apart. Long, long spell of possession and suddenly they burst into life.
Out wide to Alba, he whips the cross in and Asensio just guides it into the far corner. Lovely finish.
16:19 , Matt Verri
19 mins: Loose touch from Busquets and Campbell can pounce, threatening to run in behind.
He’s slowed down though and has to turn all the way back, that brief moment of excitement has gone. Torres leads the Spain counter, thinks he’s fouled but play is waved on. Frantic spell of play.
16:16 , Matt Verri
16 mins: Gavi hacked down, up come the Spanish centre-backs for the free-kick.
Taken short, Pedri loses it and Costa Rica can break. That is until Asensio shoves Bennette over, his side will take every second over this set-piece. A rare chance to slow Spain down.
16:14 , Matt Verri
14 mins: Now what do Costa Rica do? More of the same you’d imagine.
Both Saudi Arabia and Japan fell behind before pulling off their shocks. This feels very different though, Costa Rica haven’t had a kick.
GOAL! Spain 1-0 Costa Rica | Dani Olmo 11'
16:11 , Matt Verri
Not sure Costa Rica have had a touch yet. More concerning for them though will be that Spain have twice opened up the mass of white shirts. They give it straight back to Busquets, Olmo tries to float a cross in but it’s a bit of a nothing ball. Pressure is relentless.
AND THEY LEAD! Gavi scoops a ball through, Olmo bundles his way through and lifts the ball over the goalkeeper for the opening goal. It’s been coming.
16:08 , Matt Verri
8 mins: Costa Rica cannot get near Pedri, he’s running the show in midfield.
Another switch from Torres and Olmo, they’re both standing right on the touchline to give Spain maximum width. Confident start from the favourites.
Pedri involved again, feeds it through to Asensio and he scuffs an effort wide.
16:05 , Matt Verri
5 mins: Asensio drops deep, plays the ball out wide to Torres. He and Olmo have already switched wings a couple of times.
Pedri floats a sublime ball over the top, perfectly into the stride of Olmo and he volleys it just wide of the far post. Massive chance.
16:02 , Matt Verri
2 mins: It will not surprise anyone to hear that Spain have had all of the ball in the opening couple of minutes. Torres looks to inject a bit of pace into the build-up, wins the first corner of the match.
Olmo over to take it. Decent delivery, just too much on it for Laporte and Costa Rica clear.
16:00 , Matt Verri
We’re up and running!
15:56 , Matt Verri
Have to give the national anthem battle to Costa Rica. Largely due to the fact there’s has words, admittedly.
Lovely to see former Arsenal winger Joel Campbell again... somehow he’s only 30. Madness.
Here we go...
15:53 , Matt Verri
Players are out onto the pitch, once again there’s plenty of empty seats in the stadium. Probably even more so than other matches.
Time for the anthems.
World Cup debut for the 18-year-old
15:49 , Matt Verri
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 23, 2022
Not long now!
15:47 , Matt Verri
Kick-off coming up in just under ten minutes now.
Plenty of drama in the other match in Group E today, as Japan came from behind to stun Germany. Would be an even bigger shock if Costa Rica got the job done here.
Would not be a surprise if this was a pretty nervy encounter, that Spain side doesn’t look full of goals.
Not a hugely encouraging stat for Spain...
15:40 , Matt Verri
Since 1950, Spain have only twice won their first match of a World Cup.
Doubt that will be part of Enrique’s team talk, but it is something they’ve struggled with over the years. In Russia, it was a thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal first up.
More of the same would do nicely.
First World Cup of many!
15:31 , Matt Verri
Gavi: 18-years old 💫
Pedri: 19-years old ✨
World Cup debut incoming... 🤩 pic.twitter.com/OBNUdQhEWb
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) November 23, 2022
Frustrating match for Spain?
15:27 , Matt Verri
Costa Rica certainly capable of keeping things tight, they’ll sit back and make this a tricky afternoon for Spain. Or at least that’s the plan.
Rodri, Laporte, Busquets... they’re going to see plenty of the ball! That won’t be an issue, but goals could be. Asensio as a false nine, no out-and-out striker. That looks to be the problem.
Busquets the sole survivor
15:17 , Matt Verri
Spain captain Sergio Busquets will use his experience to help the country’s young players thrive under the pressure of a World Cup.
Head coach Luis Enrique has named a young squad for the tournament, with 20 players appearing at their first-ever World Cup. Busquets is the only survivor from Spain’s 2010 World Cup win, and the 34-year-old is ready to act as a leader.
“The World Cup is unique,” he said.
“It’s the biggest sporting event and sometimes the nerves get the better of you when you don’t have much experience.
“I tell them we have to be faithful to our style of play and everything that we’ve been working on with our coach. We know it is going to be difficult, but our aim is to play seven games, fight until the end and why not win? We need to go step by step.”
Spain need to turn up
15:10 , Matt Verri
As Argentina and Germany have found out, you cannot take any team lightly at the World Cup.
Spain have been far from convincing at the tournament, since winning it in 2010. In 2014 they were knocked out of the group stage, losing 5-1 to the Netherlands and then being beaten by Chile.
Four years ago, they drew to Portugal and Morocco in the group stage, though made it through. They were then beaten by hosts Russia on penalties in the last-16.
Two wins in seven matches at the World Cup since 2010 - need to improve.
Japan hold on!
15:02 , Matt Verri
Massive result in Group E!
Japan have beaten Germany, who lose their first match of the World Cup once again. All of a sudden they’re in real danger of being knocked out.
That’s a nice boost for Spain ahead of their match this afternoon.
𝐎𝐇. 𝐌𝐘. 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐃.
The touch 👌
The finish 🚀
Japan are BEATING Germany thanks to Takuma Asano 😱 pic.twitter.com/9emat3vyB2
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 23, 2022
Costa Rica team news
14:52 , Matt Verri
Costa Rica XI: Navas, Oviedo, Calvo, Waston, Duarte, Fuller, Bennette, Tejeda, Borges, Campbell, Contreras.
Germany in huge trouble!
14:47 , Matt Verri
Well, well, well!
In the other match in this group, Germany were 1-0 up at half-time and seemingly in control. Japan have just scored their second goal... they lead 2-1 with five minutes remaining.
Another massive shock is on the cards. Here’s how they equalised...
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 23, 2022
Interesting from Spain...
14:39 , Matt Verri
It’s a Manchester City pairing at centre-back, with Rodri starting in defence alongside Laporte. Azpilicueta gets the nod at right-back.
Busquets as ever anchors the midfield, with Gavi and Pedri alongside him, while it appears to be Asensio as a false nine for Spain. Morata will be disappointed with that.
Spain team news
14:32 , Matt Verri
Spain XI: Unai; Azpilicueta, Rodri, Laporte, Alba, Busquets, Gavi, Pedri; Ferran, Asensio, Olmo
Costa Rica had to battle...
14:26 , Matt Verri
Far more difficult for Costa Rica though.
They finished fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, behind Canada, Mexico and the USA. As a result they went into an inter-confederation play-off against New Zealand.
They won that match 1-0 in June, sealing their spot at the World Cup. Now the fun begins...
No problems for Spain
14:19 , Matt Verri
As expected, Spain breezed through qualifying to book their place in Qatar.
They topped ther group, ahead of Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo, their defeat away to Sweden the only time they were beaten.
15 goals scored, five conceded... all relatively comfortable for Spain.
Elsewhere in Group E...
14:10 , Matt Verri
Germany’s players covered their mouths during a team photo and wore warm-up tops with rainbow-coloured sleeve stripes in an apparent protest over Fifa’s ban on the One Love armband.
Germany were one of several European nations, including England, who had been planning to wear the rainbow armband in Qatar in a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
However, the countries backed down on Monday, just hours before England’s opener against Iran, after Fifa threatened sporting sanctions, including a possible yellow card for any player wearing the armband.
The German FA is set to take legal action against Fifa over the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but told captain Manuel Neuer not to wear the armband during Wednesday’s Group E opener against Japan.
Score prediction: Tough draw
13:59 , Alex Young
While something of a cliché these days, Spain do struggle to convert chances despite their ability on the ball.
Costa Rica are no pushovers and will be as fired up as any to earn a statement result ahead of facing further tough tests Germany and Japan.
A 0-0 draw.
Costa Rica team news: No fresh concerns
13:52 , Alex Young
Costa Rica are in as good a shape as possible heading into their first game.
They are preparing for a fifth World Cup appearance since 1990 and third in a row following an intercontinental play-off win over New Zealand back in June.
Veteran Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas remains their star player and will earn his 108th senior cap against Spain, with former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell - who now plays his club football in Mexico with Leon - leading the attack.
Spain team news: Morata and Carvajal ill
13:47 , Alex Young
Spain are hoping striker Alvaro Morata and defender Dani Carvajal overcome colds, which head coach Luis Enrique attributed to the air conditioning in Qatar, to play today.
Enrique in the build-up to the game saw his decision to replace left-back Jose Gaya questioned, with some reporters asking if the injury that was serious enough to justify Alejandro Balde being called up.
He said: "What my heart told me is to keep Gaya but then my mind tells me I should do the best for the team and the best for the team is, there's no doubt about it, considering Gaya's injury, to have two fully fit left backs before the World Cup.”
That’s them told.
Where to watch
13:35 , Alex Young
TV channel: The game will be broadcast free-to-air on ITV1, with coverage starting at 3.10pm.
Live stream: The ITV Hub will offer a free live stream service.
13:30 , Alex Young
Good afternoon and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live coverage of the World Cup group game between Spain and Costa Rica.
La Roja haven’t had the best of time on the world stage in recent tournaments, but reached the semi-finals at last year’s Euros as they continue to improve under head coach Luis Enrique.
Costa Rica should prove a stern test, though, as Group E continues after Germany and Japan face off.
Kick-off is at 4pm GMT at the Al Thumama Stadium. Stick with us.