Silva double blasts Spain past Belgium


Brussels (AFP) – Spain earned a World Cup qualifying boost by beating Belgium 2-0 in an international friendly on Thursday thanks to a David Silva double.

Both sides were on the rebound from disappointing Euro 2016 campaigns with new coaches Roberto Martinez for Belgium and Basque Jolen Lopotegui for Spain.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa teed up Silva to fire home confidently from the left of the penalty area on 34 minutes before the lively Manchester City midfielder  converted a penalty on the hour.

The Brussels crowd booed the home side as Spain outpassed them and as Belgium resorted to defending deep, a section of the crowd even chanted the name of former coach Marc Wilmots.

On his first outing in the Belgium hotseat, former Everton boss Martinez asked for patience from the fans.

“You can’t expect major change in just three days and this result has no real meaning. What I do want to see, though, is passion and pride in wearing the national team jersey,” he said.

However, his side had produced just one shot on target during the 90 minutes and looked a pale imitation of even the team that fell to Wales in the Euro quarter-finals.

For Spain, who played without injured playmaker Andres Iniesta, Costa linked up well with Sevilla left winger Vitolo, who played in the cross that set up Spain’s opener.

And such was the domination of the Spaniards that Belgium’s own playmaker Eden Hazard was pulled into his side’s deep defensive play.

Spain begin their World Cup qualifiers against Lichtenstein on Monday while Belgium travel to Cyprus for their own opener.

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