Spain beats Uruguay 2-1 in Confed Cup opener

STEPHEN WADE
Last updated 14:35 17/06/2013
Andres Iniesta
Getty Images
ANDRES INIESTA: In action against Uruguay in the Confederations Cup.

Relevant offers

Football

English FA keeps up pressure on FIFA over Qatar FA chairman backs Hodgson despite World Cup flop Newcastle Utd clash a 'dream' for Ben Sigmund Liverpool moving on as Luis Suarez leaves Jeremy Brockie out to score against West Ham Real Madrid sign Colombian James Rodriguez Manny Muscat added to A-League All Stars Kiwi Chris James off to French fourth division club Dunga back to succeed Scolari as Brazil manager Newcastle down Sydney FC on emotional night

Andres Iniesta repeated several times that Spain deserved its 2-1 victory over Uruguay in their Confederations Cup opener.

The Spain midfielder had only one problem with Sunday's result. The game wasn't as close as the score looked, and Spain should have scored at least one more goal.

"I think it was clear Spain was the undeniable winner, a deserved victory," Iniesta said. "It left a very good taste in our mouth. But we probably deserved another goal."

Spain had 77 per cent of the possession in the first half, and 71 in the match - and that tells much of the story.

Cesc Fabregas hit the post in the 10th minute, which is the other goal Iniesta was probably talking about.

The World Cup champions did get two first-half goals just after Fabregas' miss - one in the 20th from Pedro and another 12 minutes later by striker Roberto Soldado.

Spain had a little luck with the first goal, which looked to be heading wide when it took a huge deflection off Uruguay defender Diego Lugano to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

The second was perfect finishing by Soldado after a cute reverse pass from Cesc Fabregas.

Luis Suarez scored a consolation goal with a delicately curling free kick for Uruguay in the 88th.

Spain is attempting to win the only major trophy it lacks to go with a 2010 World Cup and two consecutive European championships.

Coach Vicente del Bosque talked about the importance of a damp, quick pitch so that Spain could put on a show. It rained just before the match, and Spain obliged.

"I think we took advantage in the first half, but dropped off a bit in the second," Del Bosque said.

Uruguay barely touched the ball in the first 15 minutes as Spain linked dozens of touches together, eventually setting up Pedro's goal. He scored from just outside the area as Lugano lunged trying to stop the shot - and pushed it into the goal, instead.

Soldado's goal could have a lasting impact - a clean finish when he was left alone in front of Muslera.

The Valencia striker is Spain's latest "No. 9," the true striker that Del Bosque has often shunned in favor of an attacking midfielder. Soldado scored 24 goals in La Liga this season, surpassed only by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao and Alvaro Negredo.

Among the other strikers, Fernando Torres scored only eight in the Premier League this season for Chelsea, and David Villa managed only 10 with Barcelona.

Ad Feedback

"First of all, to be among the 23 to be on the team is great," Soldado said. "But then to be a starter is a radical change. And then to score. Of course I'm happy."

Del Bosque also returned captain Iker Casillas to his spot in goal.

Casillas had not played a competitive match in 4 1/2 months. He was dropped in December by then-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, then broke his left hand in a match on Jan. 23. Even after it healed, Mourinho left him on the bench.

Casillas had little to do for much of the time - but was helpless against Suarez's free kick.

The second half was more of the same, but it turned more physical with the pro-Uruguay crowd often jeering Spain's long spells of possession. Only after Suarez's late free kick did the game seem in doubt.

Spain and South American champion Uruguay are viewed as the class teams of Group B - which also includes Tahiti and Nigeria - and Spain clearly outclassed Uruguay with its usual domination of possession.

"We know our next opponent (Tahiti) is a lesser team, but you have to play every match," Iniesta said.

- AP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best player at the World Cup?

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Mario Goetze (Germany)

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Neymar (Brazil)

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

Toni Kroos (Germany)

Angel di Maria (Argentina)

Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Mesut Ozil (Germany)

Sami Khedira (Germany)

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content