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Villa scores as Spain rout Saudis

World and European champions ease to comprehensive friendly victory

Image Credit: AFP
Spain striker Fernando Torres (right) jumps for the ball with Saudi Arabia’s Kamil Al Mousa during their friendly match on Friday. Spain won 5-0.
Gulf News

Pontevedra, Spain: David Villa scored on his return to the Spain national team as the World Cup champions prepared for qualifying with a 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia in a friendly on Friday.

Villa, making his first appearance for Spain since November 2011 because of injury, added to his all-time leading goal tally for Spain by hitting his 52nd international goal from a 64th-minute penalty.

Pedro Rodriguez scored a goal in each half, while Santi Cazorla and substitute Xavi Hernandez also found the net. Fernando Torres made his 100th appearance for Spain before being replaced by Villa in the second half.

Spain open their Group I qualifying campaign on Tuesday at Georgia, who won 1-0 against Belarus on Friday.

Villa scored on his last appearance with the national team at Costa Rica, but the Barcelona striker’s lack of playing time this season showed as he has been eased back gingerly since undergoing surgery on his left leg in December.

“I’m happy to be here again, it was very hard being away from this,” the 30-year-old Villa said. “I’ve missed being with the national team, the games and being with my teammates.”

Spain had little trouble against the 105th-ranked Saudis at Pasaron Stadium. It was the team’s first match at home since successfully defending their European title in Poland and Ukraine in the summer.

The hosts dominated despite their opponents showing flashes of the quick-touch style under former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, a style perfected by the world champions.

Cazorla got Spain rolling in the 23rd minute as he rocketed a loose ball inside the area into the roof of the net. He then put Pedro through three minutes later to lob goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah.

Torres was handed the captain’s armband by coach Vicente del Bosque, and the Chelsea striker set up Spain’s third goal after earning a foul outside the area.

“It’s an important number, so many things have happened in 100 games,” Torres said after becoming the sixth player to reach 100 appearances with Spain.

Xavi stepped up to curl the free-kick from 20 metres out over the defensive wall and into the net within two minutes of coming on after the break. Del Bosque rotated his squad in the second half, making six changes to ensure Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Sergio Ramos also got playing time.

Villa lacked some confidence in his touches, but not from the penalty spot as he stepped up to score with ease after Ignacio Monreal was fouled inside the area.

“This is a family and he has been fundamental for us,” Torres said.

Pedro completed the lopsided win in the 73rd with a similar goal, chipping Abdullah after being played through by Silva.