Diego Costa off the mark as Spain win in Luxembourg


Diego Costa needed his fair share of opportunities to open his goalscoring account for Spain in a 4-0 European Championship qualifying victory over Luxembourg. The Brazil-born striker kept a low profile at the World Cup finals after switching national allegiance, and Spain fans watched him toil in vain throughout Thursday's shock Group C loss in Slovakia. He fluffed countless first-half chances to score against Luxembourg, with David Silva and Paco Alcacer stepping up to relieve some of the early pressure with a goal apiece. But Costa registered his first Spain goal in scruffy fashion on 69 minutes, and there was still time for debutant Juan Bernat, a Bayern Munich defender, to score a fourth after coming on as a substitute. It was also a night to remember for Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, who kept a clean sheet at the Stade Josy Barthel after being handed a starting berth ahead of Real Madrid's Iker Casillas. After the embarrassment of last week's defeat, the stage was set for Spain to make amends with a goal glut. Chelsea hotshot Costa has found goals easy to come by in the Premier League but failed to score for Spain in six previous appearances. How he did not end that run in the first 45 minutes in Luxembourg was a mystery. His first effort, a searing sighter from distance, sent Jonathan Joubert sprawling across his goalmouth, and the former Atletico Madrid forward followed that up by fizzing the ball wide from an excellent position. In the 21st minute, he loped into the box from the wing before scooping his finish over the bar, and three minutes later his curling attempt found its way into Joubert's gloves. Silva took the focus off his frustrated team-mate by notching the first goal on 27 minutes. After moving swiftly down the right wing, the Manchester City playmaker cut inside before guiding the ball home with his left boot. Play resumed and Costa drilled a snapshot straight at defender Chris Philipps. Alcacer then rattled home the second goal after being set up by Silva. Luxembourg enjoyed a rare moment of promise when play resumed after the break, Maxime Chanot sweeping up Mathias Janisch's corner to thump the ball wide of a post. And in the 69th minute, Costa broke his international duck when he was in the right spot to tuck the ball home after Marc Bartra had failed to find a way past the unprotected Joubert. With the result secure, coach Vicente del Bosque threw the uncapped duo of Valencia striker Rodrigo and Bernat into the fray as substitutes. The switch paid dividends in the 88th minute as the former Los Che teammates combined well in the box before the Bundesliga player turned the ball home.