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Spain ease past Uruguay

17 June 2013, 14:01

Recife - The scoreline may suggest otherwise, but Spain cruised to an easy 2-1 victory over Uruguay in their Confederations Cup opener on Sunday, winning with first-half goals by Pedro and Roberto Soldado.

Spain had a little luck with the first goal, which may have been heading wide when it took a huge deflection off Uruguay defender Diego Lugano to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. The second was perfect finishing by Soldado after a cute reverse pass from Cesc Fabregas.

Luis Suarez scored a consolation goal with a delicately curling free kick for Uruguay in the 88th.

Spain is trying to win the only major trophy it lacks to go with a 2010 World Cup and two consecutive European championships.

Coach Vicente del Bosque talked about the importance of a damp, quick pitch so that Spain could put on a show. It rained just before the match, and Spain did just that.

Uruguay barely touched the ball in the first 15 minutes as Spain linked dozens of touches together, eventually setting up Pedro's goal in the 20th. He scored from just outside the area as Lugano lunged trying to stop the shot — and pushed it into the goal, instead.

Soldado's goal could have a lasting impact — a clean finish when he was left alone in front of Muslera.

The Valencia striker is Spain's latest "No. 9," the true striker that Del Bosque has often shunned, playing an attacking midfield player instead. Soldado scored 24 goals in La Liga this season, surpassed only by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao and Alvaro Negredo.

Among the other strikers, Fernando Torres scored only eight in the Premier League this season for Chelsea, and David Villa managed only 10 with Barcelona.

Del Bosque also returned captain Iker Casillas to his spot in goal.

Casillas had not played a competitive match in 4 1/2 months. He was dropped in December by then-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, and then broke his left hand in a match on Jan. 23. Even after it healed, Mourinho left him on the bench.

Casillas had little to do for much of the time — but was helpless against Suarez's free kick.

Spain and South American champion Uruguay are viewed as the class teams of Group B — Tahiti and Nigeria are the other teams — and Spain clearly outclassed Uruguay with its usual domination of possession. It reached 77 percent in the first half and finished at 71 for the match.

The second half was more of the same, but it turned more physical with the pro-Uruguay crowd often jeering Spain's long spells of possession. Only after Suarez's late free kick did the game seem in doubt.

- AP

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