Pedro grabs a hat-trick as Spain turn on the style
SPAIN AND hat-trick hero Pedro turned on the style in a 4-0 qualifying win in Belarus amid a television blackout last night, while Italy enjoyed a second-half surge to prevail 3-1 in Armenia.
The world and European champions’ game was not televised in debt-ridden Spain as no broadcaster agreed to pay the price set by rights holders Sportfive to show the Group One match.
Vicente Del Bosque’s side got straight down to business and were 2-0 up inside the first quarter of the match in Minsk, with Jordi Alba and Pedro on the scoresheet.
Pedro then grabbed two more after the break, outpacing the defence for his second and combining with Barcelona team-mate Cesc Fabregas for his third as Spain made it two wins from two ahead of Tuesday’s visit of France.
Group B leaders Italy had a similarly awkward-looking encounter in Armenia but their nerves were settled by an 11th minute Andrea Pirlo penalty.
Henrik Mkhitaryan wiped the smiles off Italian faces when he skipped past Andrea Barzagli to fire home the equaliser and Cesare Prandelli’s Euro 2012 runners-up needed headers after the break from Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo to ensure victory.
Ruben Schaken scored on his debut as the Netherlands eased to a 3-0 home win over Andorra in Rotterdam to sealing their 11th straight World Cup qualifying win.
Rafael Van der Vaart, replacing the injured Wesley Sneijder, opened the scoring after seven minutes when he turned away from his marker and finished with a well-placed shot.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar headed home the second goal after an assist from winger Jeremain Lens, who then combined with Feyenoord forward Schaken for 3-0 from close range on 50 minutes.
The Dutch top Group D with nine points after three matches, ahead of Romania on goal difference. The group pacesetters clash in Bucharest on Tuesday.
Midfielder Giorgos Karagounis became Greece’s most capped player (with 121 caps) but the hosts failed to rise to the occasion in drawing 0-0 with Bosnia in a Group G clash in Piraeus.
Greece hit the woodwork twice and Dimitris Salpingidis also missed a late chance to win it for the hosts who also had a let-off when Giannis Maniatis headed Zvjezdan Misimovic’s shot off the goalline.