CADIZ, Spain (Reuters) - Spain clinched top spot in Group F in style by hammering Malta 7-0 at home on Friday for their biggest win of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as seven players got on the scoresheet.
Spain had sealed their place at next year’s tournament last month in unconvincing fashion by drawing 1-1 with both Norway and Sweden but they created a party atmosphere in Cadiz with a superb display of attacking football.
The Spaniards lead the standings with 23 points from nine matches, five more than second-placed Sweden who booked their place at Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win over Romania.
Alvaro Morata put the Spaniards on their way to a resounding victory over Malta by netting midway through the first half, scoring for the seventh consecutive game for club and country.
Santi Cazorla doubled the lead shortly before halftime with his first goal for his country in over four years, a special moment for the much-loved 34-year-old who has staged a remarkable recovery from a career-threatening foot injury.
Robert Moreno’s side turned on the style in the second half, with defender Pau Torres marking his debut with a goal in the 62nd minute and Pablo Sarabia also netting for the first time for Spain less than a minute later.
Dinamo Zagreb striker Dani Olmo then came off the bench to make his Spain debut and moments later marked the occasion by scoring his side’s fifth goal, while Gerard Moreno soon followed by netting his first goal for Spain.
Jesus Navas produced the most impressive strike of the evening for goal number seven, finding the top corner from outside the area, while substitute Paco Alcacer was not far away from hitting goal number eight when he rattled the post.
“I leave here feeling very satisfied because we never lost our desire. Every time Malta took a centre to restart the game we felt compelled to go looking for another goal,” said Moreno.
“It’s great when new players come in and bring fresh air with them. I’m very happy for the lads that made their debuts and scored because it shows the team is ready to renew itself.”
Malta coach Raymond Farrugia endured a painful night in more than one sense as he accidentally banged his head against the dugout in the second half and required medical assistance, although he remained on the sidelines until full-time.
“I barely remember anything about the last 20 minutes,” said Farrugia, who was part of the Malta side who were infamously trounced 12-1 by Spain in a decisive qualifier for Euro 1984.
“We were playing against the best team in the world. With these players Spain have the best team around and I think these players could easily go on to win the European Championship.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris