Silva scores twice as Spain beat Scotland 3-1

David Silva scored twice and set up David Villa’s 50th goal for

Spain as the defending champions denied Scotland a playoff place

for next year’s European Championship with a 3-1 win on

Tuesday.

Scotland’s loss allowed the Czech Republic to overtake it and

finish second in Group I after it beat Lithuania 4-1. Scotland

needed to match the Czechs’ result to clinch a spot in next month’s

playoff for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

”The result is disappointing,” Scotland coach Craig Levein

said. ”We don’t like to lose, but I told the players that this is

as hard as it gets. I don’t feel we hit our stride until three or

four games into qualifying.”

World Cup champion Spain has won 14 straight competitive matches

and finished Group I perfect after an eighth straight victory.

Coach Vicente Del Bosque left striker Fernando Torres but

Spain’s attack didn’t miss the Chelsea striker as the 2008

champions scored after six minutes. Villa collected the ball and

slipped a pass to the overlapping Jordi Alba who cut back for Silva

to guide a low shot under Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

Spain showcased its characteristic possession football at the

Rico Perez stadium with Pedro Rodriguez and Carles Puyol getting

chances before Scotland began to threaten.

But Spain continued to pressure McGregor before Silva scored his

second goal at the close of the half after cutting in from the

right and swapping passes with Pedro before stroking the ball low

into the far corner.

”I think we’ve got a lot of alternatives,” Del Bosque said.

”I also think it’s healthy for the mentality of the group that all

the players participate and feel useful. I know it’s difficult to

put everyone on, but we are always searching for better.”

Silva made his case to start more matches for the world

champions as his influence grew and he orchestrated an intricate

passing move with Santi Cazorla and Pedro before rolling the ball

to Villa to score in the 54th as the Barcelona striker added to his

record total for Spain in his 80th game.

”They knock the ball around so quick and so crisp,” Scotland’s

Steven Naismith said. ”We tried to get forward as much as we could

but you can’t go right up against a Spain team that has world-class

players.”

David Goodwillie scored a consolation goal for Scotland with a

66th-minute penalty after Victor Valdes – making his first start

for Spain with Iker Casillas rested – felled Craig Mackail-Smith in

the box.

Lineups:

Spain: Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol (Alvaro

Arbeloa, 45), Jordi Alba, David Villa, Xavi Hernandez (Fernando

Llorente, 64), Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez,

Santi Cazorla, David Silva (Thiago Alcantara, 55).

Scotland: Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, Phil Bardsley, Christophe

Berra, Gary Caldwell, Charlie Adam (James Forrest, 63), Darren

Fletcher (Don Cowie, 85), James Morrison, Craig Mackail-Smith,

Barry Bannan (David Goodwillie, 63), Steven Naismith.