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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 4, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    Spain find breakthrough eventually

    Carl O'Malley

    World and European champions Spain struggled to break down a crowded Chinese defence last night, but found the breakthrough six minutes from time for their third friendly win in a week.

    Ireland’s Euro 2012 Group C opponents could have taken the lead earlier but for Raul Albiol and Andres Iniesta hitting the crossbar and fine saves from  Zeng Cheng to deny Iniesta, eventual goalscorer David Silva and Fernando Torres.


    They didn’t have it all their way. Zheng Zhi twice should have put China in the lead but he missed the target after rounding Iker Casillas early on, before being denied by a wonderful reaction save from the Real Madrid keeper 15 minutes before half-time.

    It was the first time Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque could select Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao players after their participation in the Copa del Rey final last week. He opted, however, to start only Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

    After a disappointing 45 minutes, during which they should have conceded at least once, Del Bosque introduced  Victor Valdes, Jesus Navas, Iniesta and Torres in place of Casillas, Xavi, Busquets and Alvaro Negredo.

    It was Iniesta’s introduction that made the difference as Spain created chances at will in the second half and eventually a sublime piece of skill from the Barca midfielder set up Silva for the winner.


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