x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

El Niño too hot for NZ

Spain extended their unbeaten run to 33 matches with an embarrassingly one-sided win over New Zealand in their Confederations Cup opener.

Fernando Torres, left, celebrates his first goal against New Zealand with his teammate David Villa as Spain run rampant in their opening Confederations Cup match.
Fernando Torres, left, celebrates his first goal against New Zealand with his teammate David Villa as Spain run rampant in their opening Confederations Cup match.

Spain extended their unbeaten run to 33 matches with an embarrassingly one-sided win over New Zealand in their Confederations Cup opener. The top team in Oceania were no match for the European Champions, who were 4-0 up inside 24 minutes with Liverpool striker Fernando Torres grabbing a hat-trick. Cesc Fabregas was also on the scoresheet with David Villa netting a fifth in front of a sparse crowd in the mining town of Rustenburg. New Zealand were without their captain Ryan Nelsen of Blackburn Rovers and his absence proved key as their defensive limitations were cruelly exposed by a team possessing some of the best attacking players in the world. Despite the tournament coming at the end of a long European season, Spain looked fresh and took the game to the All Whites from the off.

And it took only six minutes for Torres to make his mark. The Reds star was afforded far too much time and space on the edge of the area and he easily turned before curling a delicious right foot shot into the top right hand corner. Torres struck again eight minutes later. Albert Riera played a clever pass to Villa and his cutback was perfect for his strike-partner to guide the ball past New Zealand keeper Glen Moss with his instep. Torres could have added a third after 16 minutes but his header, after Villa's shot had been blocked by Moss' feet, was weak and the Kiwi keeper gathered. He made no mistake a minute later, though, powerfully heading home Joan Capdevila's left-wing cross.

New Zealand looked shell-shocked and they continued to have no answers to Spain's pass-and-move game. Riera was next to try his luck with a right-foot shot that Moss saved well but it proved a temporary reprieve as Vicente Del Bosque's men scored their fourth from their next attack. A long passage of possession football culminated in Capdevila finding space inside the box and his low centre was tapped into an empty net by Fabregas. Spain's intensity finally relented, although New Zealand were still struggling to retain the ball. They did force Spain keeper Iker Casillas into action a minute before half-time, though, the Real Madrid man flying full length to tip Dave Mulligan's free kick around the post.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert would have demanded his players show pride in the second half but his team talk went out of the window only three minutes after the restart when Villa made it 5-0 following a horrible blunder from defender Andy Boyens. Torres' cross from the left should have been cleared but Boyens performed an air-kick, with the ball reaching Villa at the far post and he had the simplest of tasks to tap in. Spain could have added more but Capdevila shot wide when well placed while Fabregas lashed a volley over after more defensive hesitancy. *PA Sport