11.20.2008

Spain crushed Chile and finished the best year of their history


Cesc Fabregas took part of the whole match, but the real stars were David Villa, Fernando Torres and Santi Cazorla. They scored for Spain to beat Chile 3-0 in a friendly on Wednesday and cap the European champion's greatest season.

Indeed, top-ranked Spain extended its two-year unbeaten streak to 28 matches. It also stayed unbeaten against Chile, winning six out of seven matches.

The talented Villa's 37th-minute penalty saw him become the first Spanish player to score in five straight games and take his international tally to 24 goals from 41 appearances, surpassing Alfredo di Stefano to move to fifth in Spain's all-time scoring list.

Fernando Torres used a quick move in the 67th to get free and score with a low shot. Cazorla then found the net with a deflected shot that skipped past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the 86th.

"The philosophy stays the same: we play well and keep scoring goals," Cazorla said after scoring his first international goal at El Madrigal stadium, where he plays club football for Villarreal FC.

The "Red Fury", which beat Germany at Euro 2008 in June to lift its first major trophy for 44 years, hasn't lost since Nov. 15, 2006 — a 1-0 defeat to Romania.

"They made us uncomfortable but Spain played well," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque. "I think we showed proof of our capabilities."

And Vicente Del Bosque knows the power of his team. That's why he used a 4-4-1-1 formation as Spain took control for the opening 15 minutes, with Bravo stopping a shot by Villa after 74 seconds.

Spain's traditonally slick passing was on display but its domination of possession provided few chances, with Villa well marked by Chile's defense as regular strike partner Torres watched from the bench.

It was the scrappy Chileans who nearly broke the deadlock in the 18th. Matias Fernandez' backheel sent Fabian Orellana into the area with only goalkeeper Iker Casillas to beat, but the Audax Italiano striker sent the ball just wide of the right post.

Iker Casillas caught Humberto Suazo's shot in the 22nd after positioning himself well as Fernandez, playing on his club's home ground, orchestrated play from the middle.

"We had excellent chances to attack and for that I don't feel I need to modify the team," Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa expressed. "The run of play wasn't so disagreeable to us except that Spain showed a forcefulness that we lacked from a similar amount of chances."

Spain's Albert Riera broke into the area in the 36th and stumbled to the ground after a challenge by Rodrigo Tello but, although there appeared to be little contact, a penalty was awarded. Villa easily beat Bravo from the spot.

Villa nearly made it 25 goals when his hard drive hit the bar to close out the half.

Second-half substitute Cazorla hit a first-time curling shot past Bravo in the 63rd but it just missed going in at the far post as Spain was able to open up the play.

The popular "NiƱo" Torres, who replaced Villa in the 57th, cut back to shake his marker on the right side and beat Bravo with a left-footed shot for his 18th goal in 58 appearances.

Keeper Pepe Reina, who came on at halftime for the magnificent Casillas, saved Suazo's header with one hand in the 58th. Alexis Sanchez shot wide from long range moments later, but it was as close as Chile would get.

"With the five or six occasions on goal we had, if we could have scored one we would have cut the difference," Bielsa admitted.

Athletic Bilbao frontmanr Fernando Llorente came on for Xavi in the 72nd to become the fifth Spanish player to debut under Vicente Del Bosque, who stretched his winning streak to six games since taking over from Luis Aragones.

In fact, Cazorla showed how dangerous Spain's bench was in the 86th after running onto a loose ball to fire a long-range shot beyond Bravo.

"It was an excellent display by our bench," said Del Bosque, who has led Spain to the top of its World Cup qualifying group with a perfect record from four games.

It's important to say that it was Spain's first international at Villarreal's home ground since its 9-0 win over San Marino in 1999 in qualifying for the European Championship.


Team lineups:

Spain: Iker Casillas (Pepe Reina, 46), Raul Albiol, Joan Capdevila, Carles Puyol (Carlos Marchena, 46), Sergio Ramos (Alvaro Arbeloa, 61), Xabi Alonso, Albert Riera, Marcos Senna (Santi Cazorla, 46), Cesc Fabregas, Xavi Hernandez (Fernando Llorente, 72), David Villa (Fernando Torres, 57).

Chile: Claudio Bravo, Cristian Alvarez, Ismael Fuentes, Waldo Ponce, Carlos Carmona, Rodrigo Tello, Mauricio Isla, Matias Fernandez, Alexis Sanchez, Fabian Orellana, Humberto Suazo (Jorge Valdivia, 87).

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