Despite the fact that they go into the final three matches of qualification for the 2010 World Cup with qualification yet to be guaranteed, Spain should be by no means worried regarding their chances. Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Belgium means the European champions are sitting pretty at the top of Group 5, with maximum points from their seven matches, and a six point advantage over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Braces from Valencia duo David Villa and David Silva, with Gerard Pique also on the score sheet, kept Spain’s hundred percent record in qualifying untarnished.
Vicente del Bosque sent out a very strong side, although Barcelona prodigy Sergio Busquets did get the nod ahead of Cesc Fabregas. And the home side’s impressive start left Belgium with no response. The front pairing of David Villa and Fernando Torres, which brought so much success as Spain conquered Europe last year, also began promisingly.
Villa had numerous chances to open the scoring early on, with his best chance being denied by a superb reflex save from Guillaume Gillet. Liverpool’s Torres also came close, as his shot skimmed past the post. La Furia Roja were granted an excellent opportunity to take an inevitable lead, when Anthony Vanden Borre blocked off Villa’s route inside the penalty area. The Valencia man took the spot kick himself, but hit his shot straight down the centre, and this always gave Gillet a chance to keep it out, which he took.
Belgium still offered little in response, although the longer the game drew on, the more frustrated Spain would grow. And luck was still not on their side, as Torres hit the woodwork again; his deflected shot banging against the post.
David Silva did, however, ensure the Spaniards went into the interval ahead. He collected a neat through ball from Valencia team-mate, Villa, before drilling a low shot into the corner of the net.
Silva celebrates after opening the scoring
It didn’t take long for the goal scorer to return the favour, as, with the second half still in its infancy, the duo linked again, with Villa picking the ball up on the edge of the box, shifting it onto his right foot, and hitting his shot past the Belgian ‘keeper.
The visitors needed a few minutes to compose themselves, but received no rest bite. Villa was once again involved, as he cut the ball back to Gerard Pique, who had continued an impressive run from the defence; before passing the ball past Gillet.
Spain had put the game out of the reach of their opponents, and demonstrated some of the mesmerising keep-ball they have become so renowned for. They were making the Belgian players chase the ball. Although they may not have been desperate for another goal, the group leaders still managed to find one. Silva drilled the ball into the back of the net from an almost identical position to Villa’s goal, but on the right.
Cesc Fabregas did eventually get his chance off the bench, being brought on after 70 minutes. And del Bosque almost reaped the immediate rewards. The Arsenal man released an impressive strike from some way out, which Gillet did well to keep out.
Fabregas did make his presence known, however, towards the end of the match. He was played into acres of space; after Xabi Alonso’s pass cut the Belgian defence apart; before unselfishly playing the ball square for Villa to grab his second with a simple finish.
Fifth goal capped a great performance
So Spain go into their final three matches on the road to South Africa, knowing that a win against Estonia on Wednesday would all but guarantee progression.
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