Luis Enrique hails flawless start as Spain thrash Croatia 6-0

Thursday, 13 Sep, 2018

Saúl Ñíguez, Rodrigo, Sergio Ramos and Isco found the net, while Lovre Kalinic, the Croatia goalkeeper, scored an own goal.

Croatia, so impressive in keeping the ball at the World Cup, lost confidence as Spain dominated possession and picked their opponents off easily, inflicting biggest defeat on the Croats after a 5-1 loss to England in a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

"They belong to the Spanish national team, nothing more". Two matches, two convincing wins against top opponents in the UEFA Nations League.

Marco Asensio doubled the lead for the hosts in the 33rd minute with a 25-yard rocket that screamed into the top corner after some sloppiness at the back from Croatia, 2-0. Carvajal also provided the cross from which Saul headed the opener, giving Spain a huge injection of belief and rattling the visitors, who moments later conceded possession in midfield before Asensio smashed the loose ball home from long range.

Spain manager Luis Enrique has rubbished suggestions that only one Barcelona player started in their UEFA Nations League match against Croatia exclusively because of hard feelings towards his former employers.

"We have played against team that did really well in the World Cup".

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After beating England 2-1 in manager Luis Enrique's first game in charge, the new-look La Roja stunned their European counterparts at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero. Spain was coached by Fernando Hierro in Russian Federation after Julen Lopetegui was sacked two days before the tournament. The former Barcelona coach also added defender Jose Luis Gaya and midfielder Dani Ceballos to the starting lineup.

Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago Alcantara all had chances to extend the scoreline, but the defence and Kalinic were able to keep them out and avoid making it even more embarrassing.

Just like it did against England, Spain was aggressive without the ball on Tuesday, pressing high and playing a more direct game that takes the focus away from short passes, something that has become a characteristic of Enrique's team.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice and won a penalty that Eden Hazard converted as they crushed Iceland 3-0 in their Nations League A, Group 2 clash in Reykjavik on Tuesday.

Belgium began with nine of the players who started the World Cup third-place playoff win against England in Russian Federation, with the injured Kevin De Bruyne replaced by Dries Mertens.

Belgium had defeated Scotland 4-0 in a friendly last week in Glasgow.