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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spain Rolls Over Malta in Qualifier, 4-0

ALICANTE, Spain -- Two goals by striker Alfonso Perez led Spain to a comfortable 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta, but manager Javier Clemente would probably have wanted an even bigger victory margin.


It put Spain four points clear at the top of Group 6, but nearest challenger Yugoslavia, which Spain plays away in its next match, has a game in hand.


It could also be challenged by Slovakia which, although seven points adrift in third place, has two matches in hand.


Clemente, celebrating his 50th match in charge of the Spanish team, will know his side could have scored many more in a group in which goal difference could prove decisive.


The best of the Spaniards was Real Betis striker Alfonso who has emerged as a key element in Clemente's plans and once again confirmed his place as the successor to former front man Julio Salinas.


In the 19th minute, Alfonso rose unmarked to a cross from Javier Manjarin but his header hit the post. Moments later Fernando Hierro hit the bar with a shot from a corner.


But shortly afterwards Barcelona midfielder Josep Guardiola latched on to a pass that Raul Gonzalez had intended for Alfonso and opened the scoring with a toe-poke. Alfonso had been slow to capitalize on another chance but made amends just before halftime when he rocketed home a loose ball after a shot from Raul had hit a defender.


Less than a minute into the second half, Spain made it 3-0 when Alfonso tapped in a pass from Juan Pizzi.


The Spaniards looked set to end the game with just a 3-0 win but added another in the last minute when goalkeeper Reggie Cini saved well from Julen Guerrero only for Pizzi to knock in the rebound.


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Carlos Alberto Silva agreed Wednesday to take over as coach at Deportivo Coruna until the end of the season. "[I like] the most direct route to goal," said the former Olympic coach, promising a return to attacking football. Silva, who has managed some of Brazil's most prestigious sides, has already worked as a scout for Deportivo.