12:00 AM, September 07, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:47 PM, September 07, 2016

Fifa World Cup 2018

Spain, Wales cruise

Spain began life under new coach Julien Lopetegui in perfect style while Gareth Bale inspired Euro 2016 sensations Wales and Kosovo earned a historic point in World Cup qualifying on Monday.

Lopetegui enjoyed a perfect competitive debut as Diego Costa, David Silva and Alvaro Morata all hit doubles in an 8-0 drubbing of Liechtenstein in Leon.

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Over in Cardiff, Real Madrid forward Bale teed up Sam Vokes for a 38th-minute opener and then scored his 23rd and 24th international goals either side of an effort by Joe Allen, who registered his first in a 4-0 crushing of Moldova.

Elsewhere Daryl Murphy's first ever international goal secured the Republic of Ireland a 2-2 draw against Serbia in Belgrade, and 10-man Italy beat Israel 3-1 in Haifa.

But arguably the performance of the night was in Turku where Valon Berisha made history, scoring Kosovo's first goal on their competitive debut as they came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Finland.

The goal gave Kosovo a precious point in qualifying Group I after Paulus Arajuuri had put Finland in front from close range in the 18th minute.

Kosovo were accepted into FIFA in May, and this was a remarkable result given that world football's governing body only gave their approval for a host of players to represent the Balkan outfit earlier on Monday.

Among those given the green light at the last minute were goalkeeper and captain Samir Ujkani, previously capped by Albania, Albert Bunjaku, who featured for Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup, and goal-scorer Berisha, who was playing for Norway as recently as June.

With several thousand Kosovans living in the Turku region, there was a sizeable support for the away side in their first ever competitive outing.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. About 100 countries recognise it as a state now, but major countries like 2018 World Cup hosts Russia do not.

Serbia vehemently opposed Kosovo's admittance to world governing body FIFA, which came soon after Europe's governing body UEFA narrowly approved their membership.

Their World Cup bow comes after their Olympic debut at the Rio Games last month, with Kosovo being accepted by the International Olympic Committee in 2014.

Spain's comprehensive win put them atop Group G ahead of Italy on goal difference.

"We reaped our rewards in the second-half for what we did right in the first-half," said Lopetegui.

"I am happy. They are the first three points and it was important to start well."

Spain and Italy meet in their next qualifier in Turin on October 6.

In Israel, new Italian manager Giampiero Ventura reflected on his debut win with goals from Graziano Pelle, Antonio Candreva from the penalty spot, and Ciro Immobile, after veteran defender Girgio Chiellini was sent off in the 55th minute for his second yellow card.

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