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World Cup Round-Up: Wins For Italy And Wales As Spain Score Eight

Spain's forward Diego Costa (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the WC 2018 football qualification match between Spain and Liechtenstein at the Reyno de Leon Stadium in Leon on September 5, 2016. / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

The second wave of European qualifiers’ opening weekend took place tonight, as 2006 winners Italy and 2010 champions Spain got their respective campaigns underway.

In Group D, Georgia and Austria began proceedings in the early kick-off. In what could have been a very tricky tie for an Austrian side still reeling from a poor Euro 2016, first half goals from Marc Janco and Martin Hinteregger  sent the away side on their way to what may well be a vital 2-1 win.

European semi-finalists Wales had a much easier time of it against Moldova, spurred on (as usual) by Gareth Bale, two strikes from the talisman coming after first half goals from Sam Vokes and Joe Allen gave Chris Coleman’s side a comprehensive 4-0 victory.

In Belgrade, an extremely poor performance from Republic of Ireland allowed Serbia to overturn an early deficit, but the away side did just enough to claim a late 2-2 draw.

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 05: Gareth Bale of Wales celebrates after he scores to make it 4-0 with his team mates including Joe Allen of Wales during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D qualifying match between Wales and Moldova at Cardiff City Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

In Group G, Spain, in new manager Julen Lopetegui’s first competitive game, annihilated Liechtenstein 8-0. Cartoon villain Diego Costa scored Spain’s first and fifth goals, with Álvaro Morata and David Silva also scoring twice. Sergi Roberto and Vitolo rounded off a perfect night for the hosts.

Italy, also under new management as Giampiero Ventura takes over from Antonio Conte, came away from Israel with a 3-1 victory thanks to goals from Graziano Pelle, Antonio Candreva and a late tie-settler from Ciro Immobile. However, the Azzurri were dealt a big blow as a red card from Giorgio Chiellini rules him out of the match against Spain next month.

In tonight’s other game from that group, the match between Albania and Macedonia was abandoned at the 75th minute with the score at 1-1. The fixture will resume, from the point where it was abandoned, tomorrow.

Israel's Beram Kayal(C, R) vies with Italy's Marco Verratt during the World Cup 2018 qualifier football match Israel vs Italy at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, on September 5, 2016. / AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

In Group I, meanwhile, there were no winners – all three matches ended in a 1-1 draw. However, there were still a couple of interesting stories from the group.

Ukraine, with legend Andriy Shevchenko now in charge, welcomed Euro 2016 quarter-finalists Iceland to Kiev. The hosts took the lead through Alfred Finnbogason after just six minutes, but Andriy Yarmolenko equalised just before half time.

The story of the night came from Helsinki, where Kosovo were playing in their first ever competitive match, and earned a highly-impressive 1-1 draw with Finland. The vast majority of the visitors’ players only received clearance to play today, but they have already showed that they will not be the whipping boys that their opponents hoped they might be.

In the battle of the group heavyweights, Croatia and Turkey cancelled each other out in Zagreb. Ivan Rakitic and Hakan Calhanoglu both scored right before half time to leave each team in this group no better or worse off position-wise.

ZAGREB, CROATIA - SEPTEMBER 5: Sener Ozbayrakli (2) of Turkey in action against Marco Pjaka (20) and Ivan Strinic (3) of Croatia during 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match between Croatia and Turkey at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatia on September 5, 2016. (Photo by Erhan Elaldi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The opening weekend of fixtures is completed tomorrow, with the likes of France, Belgium and the Netherlands all in action.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.