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Alaba's captaining debut

Two wins for FCB players in World Cup qualifiers

Former world champions Spain remain on course for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. La Roja were victorious over Israel (4-1) in the fifth round of European qualification and now lead Group G by virtue of their better goal difference over Italy. Third-placed Israel are already three points behind the two leaders.

Bayern midfielder Thiago started for Spain as they went into half-time with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from David Silva and Vitolo. Diego Costa and substitute Isco struck after the break either side of a consolation from Lior Rafaelov for Israel. Thiago was taken off just after the hour, but Javi Martinez did not feature.

Alaba strikes the woodwork

Austria also celebrated an important win in Group D. They ran out 2-0 victors over Moldova in David Alaba’s first game as captain of his country in place of the suspended Julian Baumgartlinger to maintain their qualification homes for the finals next summer.

Marcel Sabitzer opened the scoring before substitute Martin Harnik doubled the lead shortly before the end after Alaba had struck the woodwork early in the game. Austria are now level with Wales on seven points, already four behind leaders Serbia and Ireland (11).

Chile lose without Vidal

Arturo Vidal was suspended for Chile’s 1-0 defeat to Argentina in South American qualifying. Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in Buenos Aires to move La Albiceleste onto 22 points and into third place.

Copa America champions Chile are sixth with 20 points. The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup finals, whilst fifth place takes part in the intercontinental play-off with the Oceania representative.