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Spanish stroll into second

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

By Andy Hall

[1] Spain moved to within two points of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 7 leaders Serbia and Montenegro with a comfortable win against San Marino in Almeria in match that saw Iván de la Peña, David Villa and Antonio Guayre make their senior debuts.

Spanish pressure

[2] As early as the first minute, Joaquín Sánchez's threaded pass found Raúl González, whose snap shot was turned on to the post. San Marino goalkeeper Federico Gasperoni was in action again moments later, flicking over a potent drive from Albert Luque before De la Peña saw his header palmed off the line.

Joaquín opener

[3] Spain got off the mark in the 14th minute when Joaquín's low drive scuttled through a congested area and crept inside the post. The Real Betis Balompié winger was then unlucky to see another effort float over the keeper and bounce back off the post. At the other end, San Marino's efforts were restricted to an Andy Selva direct free-kick that flew wide.

Torres on target

[4] Fernando Torres scored Spain's second goal on 33 minutes after receiving a perfectly-weighted pass from De la Peña. The striker cut inside Simone Bacchiocchi then tucked the ball far from Gasperoni's outstretched hand and inside the post. Raúl leapt to head Spain 3-0 in front just before half-time.

Villa debut

[5] Luis Aragonés introduced Villa for Raúl at the start of the second half and the Real Zaragoza forward was straight into the thick of the action, heading a Xavi Hernández centre the wrong side of the post. Spain struggled to break down a congested San Marino defence but did manage to go 4-0 up on 65 minutes when Guti leisurely headed in a Torres cross at the far post.

Delight for Del Horno

[6] Asier Del Horno enjoyed his fair share of chances throughout - including a tremendous volley that flew centimetres wide. The Athletic Club Bilbao left-back scored his second goal for the Selección on 78 minutes, steering a loose ball into the back of the net.

Belgrade summit

[7] The win puts Spain in second place in Group 7 on eight points - ahead of Lithuania on goal difference. They now visit the leaders in Belgrade on 30 March for a pivotal encounter, while Giampaolo Mazza's men, rooted to the bottom of the group having lost all five of their matches so far, entertain Belgium on the same night.

Fernando Torres (right) is congratulated by debutant Iván de la Peña