Ferran Torres celebrates for Spain against Georgia
Spain responded to their defeat to Sweden with an impressive 4-0 victory over Georgia in Badajoz on Sunday in their latest qualifier for Qatar 2022.
Goals from Jose Gaya, Carlos Soler, Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia earned Luis Enrique’s men a comfortable victory and temporarily put them back on top of their group.
While that 2-1 loss in Stockholm on Thursday ended a 66-game unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying, there was little hangover in Extremadura as the hosts delivered a controlled and entertaining display for the packed crowd.
Gaya’s first-time strike from the edge of the box was not the cleanest, but it was enough to give Spain a 14th-minute lead as it took a big deflection on its way past goalkeeper Giorgi Loria.
Soler made it 2-0 with 25 minutes gone, stylishly side-footing high into the net after Marcos Llorente’s cut-back found its way to his feet.
Torres saw a goal disallowed for offside but still made it 3-0 before the break, his scuffed effort bouncing beyond Loria and into the bottom-left corner.
Georgia posed a threat to Unai Simon’s goal early in the second half, but Spain pounced via a quick counter-attack, Sarabia lifting a finish high past Loria after he was brilliantly set up by Pablo Fornals.
Simon did produce a remarkable one-handed stop to deny Georges Mikautadze before he was replaced by Robert Sanchez, as Luis Enrique gave some game time to the substitutes in the closing stages.
Sarabia thought he had scored a fifth with the last kick of the game, but Fornals was judged offside before delivering his pinpoint cross.
What does it mean? Stylish response from Spain after Sweden shock
Amid the inquest into that defeat to Sweden – their first in World Cup qualifying since 1993 – this was a comfortable return to winning ways for La Roja.
There was a welcome clinical edge to their performance as they moved back to the top of Group B, a point ahead of Sweden but having played two games more.
Georgia remain bottom with one point from their five matches.
This was another performance to show why Pep Guardiola likes to use Torres in a central attacking role for Manchester City.
Not only did he twice put the ball in the net, the first disallowed after a VAR check, but he also contested 10 duels – the most of anyone in his hour on the pitch.
He is the first Spain player to score at least five times in a calendar year since Isco in 2018.
Can Spain sustain momentum?
Kosovo away in the coming days will be a tougher test than this one, but it is crucial to Spain’s hopes of topping the group that they keep up the pressure on Sweden.
Building some form and confidence would also do no harm to their Nations League chances – they face Italy in the semi-finals on October 6.
Spain face Kosovo in Prishtina on Wednesday, while Georgia head to Sofia to play a friendly with Bulgaria.