SEVILLE, Spain: Spain beat Kosovo 3-1 this morning in a World Cup qualifier overshadowed by diplomatic disputes.
Goals from Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and second -half substitute Gerard Moreno put Spain top of Group B in the race for a place in the finals in Qatar 2022.
“It’s very easy to play with a player like Dani Olmo,” Torres said.
Political controversy heated up the situation when Kosovo was said to be a “province” by the Spanish Football Federation as they released the Spanish fixture schedule in a group also joined by Sweden, Greece and Georgia.
That picture is unacceptable in Kosovo, a former Serbian province of 1.8 million people that declared independence in 2008.
In response, the Kosovo Football Federation (FFK) in a statement said that “Kosovo is an independent country” and threatened not to play if they were not allowed to use their own flag and national anthem.
On a pitch near Seville, Kosovo, ranked 117th in the world, struggled to face the 2010 world champions who changed their dominance with two goals in the first half.
RB Leipzig’s Olmo, who scored the winning goal late in Spain’s game in Georgia, blasted home the first goal in the 34th minute.
In less than a minute, the score was 2-0 when Manchester City’s Torres exploded from close range from Pedri’s cross.
Spain were stunned in the 70th minute when midfielder Besar Halimi scored for Kosovo.
It was the team’s first goal in 2022.
How soon after that, substitute Moreno found the target as a result of Koke’s corner kick.