Armenia proved tough opposition for Spain when the sides met in the ninth of ten World Cup Qualification fixtures; although the European champions’ class shone through as they edged out their opponents. A superb goal from Cesc Fabregas and a spot kick from Juan Mata sandwiched an Arzumanyan goal, giving la Seleccion the victory.
Spain boss Vicente del Bosque used the match as an opportunity to experiment with a few of the players on the periphery of the side, who are eager to edge themselves into the coach’s plans for next summer.
And the players who came into the side began to prove that the short, quick passing philosophy runs throughout the whole squad. Santi Carzola was staking his claim for a place in the side, coming close on numerous occasions in the opening stages. The pick of them coming when his delivery floated over everybody and smacked against the post.
They were keeping the ball from the hosts with apparent ease, and it paid off after 33 minutes. A great string of passes was finished off when Xavi Hernandez floated one of his trademark passes over the top for Cesc Fabregas; who chipped the ball over an onrushing Berezovski to put the visitors into the lead.
The second half saw Armenia find a foot-hold in the game, and show some real attacking intent. Previously, the hosts had been content to let Spain dominate the game, but now found themselves unlucky to still be behind. A Gerard Pique block denied possibly their best opportunity.
Spain were beginning to find their rhythm once more, until conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position. Karamyan’s pin-point delivery was met by the head of Robert Arzumanyan; who fought off stiff competition to power the header home.
The European champions looked to show their character by regaining their momentum, and hit straight back, regaining the lead after winning a penalty. Juan Mata made a striving run into the penalty area, only to be brought down by the Armenia ‘keeper. And the Valencia youngster scored the resultant spot-kick, sending Berezovsky the wrong way.
The game did not fizzle out, however, as both sides looked to grab a final goal. Fabregas forced the Armenia goalkeeper into a good save late on, whilst the hosts were also looking troubling.
So, despite the brave efforts of Armenia, Spain go into their final match in the qualification stages with a 100% record from their nine fixtures. It was by no means their most convincing victory of the campaign, but it was a result which proves why the European champions will be the ones to beat in South Africa.
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