Villa double as Spain return to form

Monday, June 21, 2010

JOHANNESBURG - Business as usual was resumed for Spain Monday as they beat Honduras 2-0 in the Ellis Park stadium, striker David Vila grabbing both goals and missing a penalty.

The pre-tournament favourites picked up their first World Cup points after their shock defeat to Switzerland in the opening round of matches.

Barcelona’s new signing Villa scored an early candidate for goal of the tournament on 17 minutes and added a second on 51 minutes. He missed a penalty and several second half chances as Honduras were lucky to escape with just a two-goal defeat.

The Latin American minnows had picked up their first ever World Cup points back in 1982 when they drew with Spain, who were then the fancied hosts. But there was no repeat of those heroics in South Africa as Vicente Del Bosque’s side refound the form that made them European Champions two years ago.

Both coaches were able to recall fit-again strikers. Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda brought back David Suazo after he had recovered from a right-thigh injury and Del Bosque gave Fernando Torres his first start since April.

The Spain boss also picked Sevilla winger Jesus Navas ahead of Valencia’s David Silva, but there was no place for Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas as Barcelona’s more defensive Sergio Busquets kept his place.

Spain had the first chance on five minutes when Xavi found David Villa who crossed for Torres, but the Liverpool striker’s scuffed shot was no problem for Honduras keeper Noel Valladares.

Spain went closer with a shot from distance from Villa that rattled the cross-bar, and then from a Navas free-kick Sergio Ramos appeared to be pushed by Sergio Mendoza, but referee Nishimura Yuichi waved play on.

Then it was Ramos’ turn to get close from a Xavi cross, while Villa flashed another shot wide of Valladares’ post. The striker was not the same player that so under-performed against Switzerland and on 18 minutes he put Spain ahead.

Barcelona’s new signing controlled a long diagonal pass out of defence from Ramos, then cut inside - beating first Mendoza and then Osman Chavez - before firing into the top right hand corner.

Just moments before the goal, Spain keeper Iker Casillas had needed to charge down a Suazo chance as Honduras appeared to grow in confidence. But the goal left Spain in control.

Torres then had two chances to double the lead inside a minute when first he headed Ramos’ cross into ground and over the bar and then shot over from just inside the box.

Villa almost undid his fine work by slapping Honduran defender Emilio Izaguirre as the two jostled ahead of a Spain corner, but the referee did not see the offence and the European Champions went in at half time one up and still with 11 men.

It was bad news for Honduras that the Barcelona man remained on the pitch: six minutes into the second half Villa put the result beyond doubt when his shot from the edge of the area clipped Chavez and dipped over Valladares for 2-0.

On 62 minutes Villa should have completed his hat-trick. But after Navas had been brought down by Emilio Izaguirre in the box, the Spain centre-forward put the penalty just past the post.

On 66 minutes Fabregas replaced Xavi and almost scored with his first touch, but Chavez scrambled back to make the goal-mouth clearance.

With 20 minutes left, Torres was replaced by Juan Mata, leaving Man of the Match Villa to move inside in search of his third goal. He fired another shot straight at Valladares and should have turned in a Navas cross only for Mendoza to divert his effort wide.

Spain go above Switzerland on goal difference into second place and and can now top the group if they beat Chile in Pretoria Friday. Honduras face the Swiss in the other game in Bloemfontein.

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