Álvaro Morata made a goalscoring return to the Spanish national team, after missing their two games last month due to a hamstring injury. While earlier in the week Morata’s fitness was once again in a bit of doubt after toenail-pain caused him to miss a day of training, he was back in full training by the end of the week and back in the starting lineup on Saturday in the friendly against Costa Rica.
Despite the questionable design of their new shirt, Spain resoundingly trounced their fellow World Cup qualifiers, 5-0, with Morata playing the first half and getting their second goal in the 23rd minute. No, it was not a header, but rather a bit of a pocher’s effort as he reacted to a rebound far quicker than any of the defenders.
Morata, who played quite well overall as well, has now scored in four straight games for Spain, with those five goals bringing his national team total to 12 in 22 caps. He looks well set to lead the line for them in Russia next summer.
Starting alongside Morata was his good friend and former Real Madrid teammate Isco, whom he’d like to pack away in his suitcase when flying back to London in a few days (this is from the same interview where Morata was talking about how he walks home from Stamford Bridge on some days).
“I would take [Isco] to Chelsea now when I return [from the Spanish camp]. But I think that right now he has one of the most important roles at Madrid. In the national team he is also key.
“I think he is unstoppable when he feels important. The whole world has seen it since he took the reins at Madrid. He is the most important player at Real Madrid and in the national team. He changes the games, he makes the difference. He dances with the ball. Furthermore, he is my friend.”
-Álvaro Morata; source: Cadena SER via Metro
Strong praise indeed. Here’s even stronger praise after the game itself, in which Isco did pick up a knock that forced him off in the 65th minute — the international break is a literal pain in everyone’s backsides.
"It was a little thing. Isco's leg had a knock, so let's hope he's well as soon as possible.
"Isco is a real phenomenon. This is his home, his land and as long as he is happy, we are happy."
-Álvaro Morata; source: ESPN
To recap: if Isco is happy, then Morata is happy. And if Morata is happy, he scores goals. And if Morata is scoring goal, then we’re happy. So all aboard the Isco happiness train!
Elsewhere on Saturday, Andreas Christensen, as was expected due to Denmark’s established center back pairing of Simon Kjaer and Andreas Bjelland, did not play in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff against Republic of Ireland. In what was a great result for the visiting Green Army, they take a 0-0 back for the second leg in Dublin on Tuesday.
Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas played the full 90 in the Czech Republic’s 1-0 friendly win over Qatar, but it was fellow loanee Mason Mount was scored the best Chelsea goal of the day with this tremendous free kick for the England U19s in their 2-1 win over Iceland.