Spain beats China in last Euro tuneup
Spain midfielders Andres Iniesta and David Silva combined to score a late goal in a 1-0 victory over a stubborn China on Sunday in the team’s last warm-up before defending its European Championship title.
Iniesta jumped on a loose ball inside China’s half and scurried into the area before passing to Silva for the 84th-minute winner that gave the World Cup champions their 25th straight victory at home.
A disjointed first-half display by Spain filled with turnovers gave way to a more fluid performance after the break when Iniesta and Silva took control of the attack. Fernando Torres also created chances but was denied several times by standout goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
”Tactically we played well,” said China coach Jose Antonio Camacho, who previously led Spain. ”But they were superior. If we played someone else we wouldn’t have lost.”
Spain’s 23-man squad was finally together with nine players in total from Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao having missed back-to-back friendly wins over Serbia and South Korea because of the Copa del Rey final.
Spain’s first match at Euro 2012 is against Italy next Sunday. The team also faces Ireland and Croatia in Group C.
Despite Spain’s superior talent, China started strongly but failed to take advantage of several uncharacteristic turnovers from the hosts’ midfielders. Xabi Alonso turned the ball over in the eighth minute to set up Zheng Zhi, who wasted a notable chance.
China, ranked 66th, pressured high up the pitch and clogged the midfield to try and frustrate Spain’s passing game. Silva managed to find Alvaro Negredo for two chances, but the striker couldn’t convert.
Spain’s defense was also troubled by China’s speed. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has now won a record 96 times in 131 internationals, stopped Hao Junmin’s dipping shot before sticking his feet out to deny Zheng in the 29th.
Iniesta replaced Xavi Hernandez and immediately linked well with Silva, Zeng tipping over his rising shot in the 54th before saving Silva’s angled attempt. Navas provided pace from the flank to open up space for Torres, who flicked on a corner that defender Raul Albiol headed against the crossbar in the 62nd.
Iniesta hit the post with a chip soon after following some deft control before Torres, who had replaced Negredo, missed twice and had two chances saved by Zheng.
Zheng saved from Silva in the 76th and then Iniesta, who found his stylish midfield partner inside the box to score only moments later.