VADUZ (Liechtenstein) • Spain coach Julen Lopetegui praised his side's quick start to the game after they hammered Liechtenstein 8-0, as Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas both struck twice to maintain their country's lead over Italy at the top of World Cup qualifying in Group G on Tuesday.
The victory in Vaduz took Spain to 22 points from eight games, three ahead of the Azzurri who beat Israel 1-0 in Reggio Emilia, Italy thanks to Ciro Immobile's second-half strike.
The winners of the nine European groups qualify directly for Russia while the best eight of the second-placed teams take part in two-leg playoffs for four more places.
"The difference between the sides is big, but you have to show that on the field," Lopetegui told Spanish TV station Movistar. "In this case the team were very serious from the start and looked to kill the game off as soon as possible."
Spain scored three goals in the first 16 minutes to ensure the rest of the game was a formality against the overwhelmed hosts.
Spain beat Liechtenstein by the same score in Lopetegui's first match in charge last year, and this was another example of the verve and style he has his team playing with.
"I get on very well with (Morata) off the pitch too and that helps," Aspas said. "It's a pity that neither of us got a hat-trick, but the important thing was the three points.
"It was a great game in which we scored as many goals as possible in case we end up level on points with Italy at the end of the qualifiers."
The Spaniards took control from the start with Sergio Ramos heading home David Silva's free kick from close range in the third minute.
Chelsea striker Morata netted the second in the 15th, nodding in Andres Iniesta's cross, before Liechtenstein goalkeeper Peter Jehle put the third goal on a plate for midfielder Isco with a miskick.
David Silva added the fourth with a free kick before the break and half-time substitute Aspas scored from point-blank range when Morata's header hit the bar and bounced down to him.
Aspas repaid the favour three minutes later, teeing up Morata for his second with a cleverly disguised pass, before netting again himself with a fierce drive inside the near post.
Liechtenstein's Maximilian Goppel flicked Spain forward Gerard Deulofeu's low cross past Jehle in the 89th minute to end a miserable night for the home side.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE