Spain scored seven goals in a storming second half against Liechtenstein as they demolished the minnows 8-0 in their first 2018 World Cup qualifier on Monday.
Costa accused the Spanish Press of mistreating him directly after Spain’s 2-0 win against Belgium last week, but his remarks took a backseat to his substitute appearance in Brussels as Julen Lopetegui made just one other change to his Roja team, Sergi Roberto coming in for Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Monday marked the seventh meeting between Spain and Liechtenstein, the former having won the previous six, scoring 23 and conceding none.
Spain began the match pinging the ball around with ominous accuracy and needed just 10 minutes to break the deadlock, when a free kick aimed into the thick of Liechtenstein’s penalty area, which Costa powered home with his head.
However, La Roja would go into half-time with only three attempts at the Liechtenstein goal as their play became too pedestrian, their movement too static, ending the first period with three consecutive shots from close range, all of which were blocked.
Nonetheless, Lopetegui appeared to have read Spain the riot act during half-time and brought on Nolito for Thiago Alcantara, in turn moving Sergi Roberto centrally, Sergio Ramos to right-back and Gerard Pique as effectively a lone centre-back.
With that, Silva should’ve scored almost straight away as he was played through on goal but tried to be too clever, coming unstuck when rounding opposing goalkeeper Peter Jehle instead of going for goal.
Koke then bent a free kick onto the woodwork, but the elusive second goal eventually came through Sergi, whose diagonal run was picked out by Nolito, before the right-back poked the ball past Jehle.
Moments after Silva blasted the ball in off the crossbar from a yard out for 3-0, Vitolo helped himself to a deserved finish as he tapped home from similar range.
Liechtenstein looked completely shot after the Sevilla winger’s goal, and it wasn’t long before Costa headed in his second of the game after he had a shot saved by Jehle. Sadly for the striker, Alvaro Morata’s introduction denied him the hat-trick, although he was treated to a standing ovation.
Another significant change saw Marco Asensio enter the fray, significant in that the Real Madrid starlet could no longer be considered for Netherlands.
Returning to the action, and Jehle was furious with himself as he conceded two soft goals, both from Morata. The striker firstly jinked past his marker in the box and cannoned a shot past the goalkeeper at his near post, before following up with a side-footer.
Silva then thought he scored Spain’s eighth of the evening in the game’s dying embers, but his effort was ruled out as there was a man offside in Jehle’s line of vision.
Still, the Manchester City star did manage to overtake Emilio Butragueno as Spain’s fifth all-time top goalscorer, sending a crisp, angled finish past Jehle to convincingly place his country top of Group G after the first matchday.
Spain 8-0 Liechtenstein
Costa 10, 66, Sergi 55, Silva 59, 90, Vitolo 60, Morata 82, 83
Spain: De Gea; Sergi, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Thiago (Nolito 46); Silva, Costa (Morata 69), Vitolo (Asensio 80)
Liechtenstein: Jehle; Rechsteiner (Yildiz 61), Polverino, Kaufmann, Goppel; Salanovic (Wolfinger 78), Martin Buchel (Gubser 85), Wieser, Marcel Buchel, Burgmeier; Hasler
Referee: Evans [WEL]