Monday 25 June 2018

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Messi-less Argentina hit for six by Spain

Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters
Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Spain sent out a warning to their World Cup rivals as Isco grabbed a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Argentina, who were missing the injured Lionel Messi.

Diego Costa, Thiago and Iago Aspas also got on the scoresheet as the 2010 world champions humiliated a hapless Argentina team who struggled without their talisman Messi.

Both sides missed good chances in the opening exchanges before Costa bravely prodded in from close range after 12 minutes, despite being clattered by goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Both players required lengthy treatment and eventually left the pitch at different stages.

Romero's replacement, Chelsea back-up Willy Caballero, had a nightmare, giving the ball away with his first touch as Isco gleefully swept home Spain's second in the 27th minute.

Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi briefly offered the visitors hope as he nodded the ball in before the break.

After the restart, however, it was again all Spain with Argentina's haphazard goalkeeping and defending ruthlessly exposed as Isco (twice), Thiago and Aspas completed the rout.

English referee Anthony Taylor had to restore order following a melee in the closing moments sparked by a rash challenge on Koke from Argentina's Cristian Pavon, which on another night could have seen him sent off.

In last night's other marquee clash, Brazil edged past world champions Germany to end their opponents' 22-match unbeaten run and exact some measure of revenge for their 2014 World Cup semi-final humiliation.

Gabriel Jesus headed in the winner in the 37th minute as Brazil, beaten just once under coach Tite and missing injured talisman Neymar, beat a second-string German team to restore some pride after their 7-1 loss to the Europeans four years ago.

The Germans were hoping to match their record of 23 games without defeat but they lacked spark and precision, with several key players injured or rested, including Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller.

Irish Independent

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