Soccer

Spain, Italy rout foes in Euro 2020 qualifying

AP

Spain finished its qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a 5-0 rout of Romania in what could have been the farewell match for coach Robert Moreno on Monday.

Moreno did not show for the post-match interview and there were widespread reports in Spanish media he would not continue at the helm of La Roja.

The Spanish soccer federation did not immediately say why the coach did not talk to the media. It said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

Moreno took over the job after Luis Enrique resigned in March to take care of his sick daughter. Moreno had been Luis Enrique’s assistant until then.

Gerard Moreno scored twice for the hosts, who had already secured a spot in the tournament but needed the victory to be among the top-seeded teams in the draw this month.

Spain also got on the scoreboard through Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, and an own-goal by Romanian defender Adrian Rus.

“It was important to finish with the three points in front of our crowd,” said Ruiz, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We need to keep this same dynamic going into the Euros next year.”

Spain ended as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws, at Norway and Sweden. La Roja finished five points in front of second-place Sweden.

Romania, which had already been eliminated, ended in fourth place with four victories and two draws in 10 matches.

Spain, coming off routing Malta 7-0 in Cadiz, outscored its opponents 31-5.

It was in control from the start on Monday, with Romania threatening only a few times in front of a crowd of 36,198 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, including many Romanians.

Ruiz opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, and Moreno added his goals with a header in the 33rd and strike from the six-yard line in the 43rd.

Rus found his own net while trying to intercept a cross into the area in first-half stoppage time, and Oyarzabal closed the scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the box in second-half injury time.

It was the second Spain match at Atletico’s Metropolitano Stadium, the other a 6-1 rout of Argentina ahead of last year’s World Cup.

Also Monday, Italy achieved its biggest win in more than 70 years when it beat Armenia 9-1 in Palermo, Sicily, in its last qualifier for the 2020 European Championship.

Italy’s biggest win since a 9-0 result against the United States in 1948 featured three Italians scoring their first international goals.

Nicolò Zaniolo, debutant Riccardo Orsolini, and Federico Chiesa all got off the mark to help Italy to a record-extending 11th successive victory.

Chiesa hit the woodwork twice before finishing off the scoring for Italy nine minutes from time.

Italy, which had already qualified for Euro 2020 as Group J winner, ensured it progressed with a perfect record of 10 wins in 10 matches. It also beat the United States in a friendly last year.

Italy was 2-0 up after less than 10 minutes and 4-0 at halftime following a Ciro Immobile brace, Zaniolo’s goal, and one for Nicolò Barella.

There was a less frantic start to the second period but Zaniolo added another in the 64th and Alessio Romagnoli bundled in a rebound and Jorginho converted a penalty.

Edgar Babayan pulled one back for Armenia between the goals for Orsolini and Chiesa.