Rodri stars as Spain see off Costa Rica
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Spain may have got off to slow starts en route to gold at the FIFA World Cup™ last year and the UEFA European U-21 Championship last month, but they put three points on the board at the first time of asking in their bid to conquer in Colombia, albeit after surviving some nervy second-half moments against Costa Rica

A Rodri double had Julen Lopetegui's team strolling towards victory, before Ronald Gonzalez's men awoke from their slumber, halved the deficit through John Ruiz, and threatened an equaliser on a few occasions thereafter. However, Koke's 81st-minute effort and Isco's last-gasp penalty sealed a 4-1 victory.

It didn't take Spain long to begin stroking the ball around in the patented fashion, or to threaten the deadlock, with Isco curling a wonderful free-kick just inches wide of Mauricio Vargas's right-hand post.

The Iberians' next chance produced the opening goal in the 14th minute. Rodri pounced on a loose ball, employed good upper-body strength to see off the challenge of Ariel Soto and break into the area, and slotted the ball coolly past the Costa Rica No1.

Almost immediately, Costa Rica go-to guy Joel Campbell roared into life, teasing his way past two opponents inside the box before unleashing a powerful shot which Aitor did well to save. The Spain keeper was called into action once again on 28 minutes, this time to prevent a Bryan Vega thunderbolt levelling the scores.

La Roja responded with Daniel Pacheca outfoxing his marker but having his shot finger-tipped around for a corner by Vargas. The Liverpool ace also had the final opportunity of the half, with his free-kick going just wide.

Antonio Luna raced on to a dinked pass into his path down the left, advanced into the penalty area and cut the ball back. Vargas and two of his defenders got in each other's way, and Rodri's desire got him to the ball and allowed him to poke it over the line.

On 56 minutes Spain almost scored what would surely have been the goal of the tournament to date. Pacheco dashed forward and played a one-two with Koke, whose return was from a delightful back-heel, but the No11's ensuing shot was brilliantly pushed over by Vargas.

It appeared as though Spain would stroll to victory, but the Central Americans had other ideas. Juan Golobio pierced open the Europeans' defence with a perfectly weighted through-ball, which 17-year-old substitute John Ruiz coolly took in his path before sliding the ball past Aitor.

Within minutes, Campbell found himself in space down the left and fired the ball across Aitor's goal. It was begging to be tapped in, but the Costa Rican attackers were slightly too late arriving on the scene. On 73 minutes, after Campbell had crashed a free-kick into the wall, Golobio drove the rebound against the crossbar.

It proved to be the valiant underdogs' last noteworthy attempt. On 81 minutes Koke finally killed off their challenge with a low effort from close range, before Isco put the icing on the cake. Spain's title assault was up and running.