Soccer

Gary Neville left red-faced over Spain claim before 7-0 Costa Rica win

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Gary Neville was left red-faced after labelling Spain “toothless” before their 7-0 World Cup demolition of Costa Rica. Luis Enrique’s side now look to be among the favourites for the competition in Qatar after they turned in a mesmerising performance full of flair, creativity and attacking fluidity against their lacklustre Group E opponents, who were handed a brutal beating.

Although Costa Rica, who somehow topped a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, are well past their best, Spain still showcased exactly why they should be taken seriously this time around following a disappointing showing in Russia.

Before the game, ITV pundit Neville raised doubts over their credentials by claiming Spain were somewhat toothless in attack, he said: “It’s [Spain team] okay but there’s no goals in it.”

But La Roja issued the perfect response by rattling seven excellent goals as they cut through their opponents like a hot knife through butter.

Spain were 3-0 up within 30 minutes after Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres (penalty) gave the Euro 2020 semi-finalists the perfect start to their World Cup campaign.

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The goals didn’t slow down in the second half either as Torres, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata added gloss to the scoreline.

Speaking after the game, Neville stood firm on his claim by suggesting Germany and Japan will provide further clarity on exactly how good Enrique’s side really are.

“We can’t just measure Spain at all of that,” Neville said. “I know they played Germany on Sunday so I look forward to seeing them in that game.

“Costa Rica are the first team in 32 years at a World Cup not to have a shot on goal. Forget the target, they have not had a shot on goal in the whole game.

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“That can’t happen. These players have experience at multiple World Cups, they knocked us out of the group with some of those players in 2014.

“They had great energy at that tournament but there was nothing out there on show today.”

When quizzed on why he thought Costa Rica were so underprepared, Neville added: “I have no idea what has just happened out there.

“We know Spain can keep the ball, I said before the game that Spain had the most possession at the last European championships.

“We know that they do that game in, game out. But that is as bad as it gets from Costa Rica, a team that has had a lot of experience and quality in the past eight to ten years.”

Spain boss Enrique was delighted with the way his side executed his game plan, stating La Roja never underestimated Costa Rica.

“I was announcing it to you throughout these ten days and when things go like this, football becomes a wonderful sport, it was a tough rival that was going to cause problems but we have been exceptional with the ball and without it, the game was not It’s over until the referee whistles,” Enrique said post-match.

“Our only objective is to continuously dominate the game, and for that you have to have the ball, so that the rival gets bored and finds little space.

“We have been exceptional in pressure and the 16 that have participated have been superb, even worse we have room for improvement.”

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