2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage
  • David Silva (13')
  • Vitolo (45'+1')
  • Diego Costa (51')
  • Isco (88')
  • Lior Refaelov (76')

Spain control Israel to remain atop World Cup qualifying group

David Silva helped Spain move a step closer to next year's World Cup finals in Russia with a 4-1 victory over Group G rivals Israel in Gijon.

The Manchester City playmaker scored a 13th-minute opener and inspired his side throughout as they extended their lead at the top of the pool with their fourth win in five games.

Vitolo, Diego Costa and Isco added further goals for the hosts, leaving Israel -- who grabbed a consolation through Lior Refaelov -- to recover for their crucial home clash with Albania on Sunday.

The Israelis will take heart from the way they started the game, with Eran Zahavi in particular causing problems for Gerard Pique and David de Gea in the early stages.

But Thiago smashed an audacious 25-yard effort against the bar in the fifth minute and from that moment on the hosts steadily increased their dominance.

The pressure paid off in the 13th minute when Jordi Alba tricked a defender to play a perfect through-ball to Silva, who slotted the opener past Israel keeper Ofir Marciano.

Andres Iniesta drifted a shot just wide from a Silva cross and Israel almost made them pay on 24 minutes when Zahavi again hit a shot just wide of target.

And Israel came even closer two minutes before half-time when Refaelov eluded his marker in the box to send in a powerful header which was well saved by De Gea.

The visitors looked set to go in at the break very much still in the game, but a goalkeeping howler by Marciano on the stroke of the interval effectively put the game beyond them.

The keeper ought to have gathered a poor low shot from Vitolo, but instead let it slip through his grasp and allowed the hosts to double their lead.

Costa, under pressure after scoring just four goals in 14 appearances for his country, cut a frustrated figure after heading wide from a Daniel Carvajal cross early in the second half.

But he finally made amends in the 51st minute when he capitalised on some more poor goalkeeping to head Spain's third goal.

Silva came close when he clattered the post with a fine volley from Costa's lay-off, before Israel were given a glimmer of hope.

Refaelov was on hand to hit the ball into the roof of the net after an initial header from team-mate Rami Gershon had come back off the post.

Silva and Vitolo went close to combining for a fourth before substitute Isco fired home in the 88th minute to complete a comprehensive win for Spain.