Xavi inspires Spain to 3-1 win at Lithuania

Defending champion Spain stayed perfect in qualifying for the

2012 European Championship by winning 3-1 at Lithuania on Tuesday

in another dominant performance inspired by midfielder Xavi


Xavi scored in the 19th minute when his shot from outside the

area deflected over goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas at Dariaus ir

Gireno Stadium.

Despite having little of the play, Lithuania equalized through

Marius Stankevicius’ long-range shot in the 57th.

Xavi set Juanma Mata free down the wing before Lithuania

defender Tomas Razanauskas guided the substitute’s pass into his

own goal in the 70th minute.

Mata scored the third goal with seven minutes to play.

Spain leads Group I with 15 points with three games to play, six

points more than the Czech Republic, which beat Liechtenstein


Lithuania is fourth in the five-team group with four points, the

same as Scotland. Liechtenstein is last with zero.

”It was an important result today, especially with the state of

the field, which was woeful,” Xavi said after helping Spain to its

11th straight competitive win. ”We reached our objective, so we

can go forward happy … the team played a complete game.”

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque made five changes to the team

that beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Friday, with Fernando Torres

and Andres Iniesta not used from the substitutes bench.

Athletic Bilbao trio Fernando Llorente, Javi Martinez and Andoni

Iraiola all started on a playing field that Xavi compared to a


”That in 2011 we’re playing on a field like this is sad,” said

the Barcelona playmaker, whose ninth goal came in his 101st

appearance. ”You can’t play football on a field like this.”

Spain’s quick-passing game was slowed by the conditions, but the

European and world champions were always in control.

Llorente laid the ball off in the 11th for Santi Cazorla, whose

weak shot was smothered by Karcemarskas.

Eight minutes later, Xavi’s shot hit Andrius Skerla and found

the net to put the hosts further on the backfoot.

Mindaugas Panka shot wide in the 23rd in the Lithuanian’s first

real chance.

Llorente’s ability to hold the ball up helped create many of

Spain’s chances, with David Villa also dangerous from wide

positions. Karcemarskas denied Llorente’s shot in the 41st after

the Basque striker was played clear into the area by Cazorla’s

floated pass.

Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas was tested just before the break,

stretching to stop Edgaras Cesnauskis’ long-range shot.

Karcemarskas again saved from Llorente after the restart, before

Stankevicius latched on to a bouncing ball well outside the area to

fire through a crowd and beyond Casillas.

But Spain quickly responded.

Karcemarskas stopped Xabi Alonso’s goal-bound free kick in the

65th before Razanauskas scored an own goal with Llorente poised to

shoot the ball into the net.

Mata, who had replaced Cazorla, slipped a low shot from the left

past Karcemarskas to score.

”We have a full squad and we have to use it and we used it well

in this game,” said Del Bosque, who also replaced Villa with David

Silva in the second half.

Defender Sergio Ramos came on in the 90th, the 24-year-old Real

Madrid fullback becoming the youngest Spain player to reach 75


”Our team did our best,” Stankevicius said. ”But Spain is a

team of entirely different class and our efforts were not enough to

challenge them.”


Lithuania: Zydrunas Karcemarskas, Deividas Semberas, Tadas

Kijanskas, Marius Stankevicius, Saulius Mikoliunas (Tomas

Razanauskas, 71), Andrius Skerla, Edgaras Cesnauskis, Marius

Zaliukas, Mindaugas Panka, Tomas Danilevicius (Dominykas

Galkevicius, 85), Darvydas Sernas (Tadas Labukas, 74).

Spain: Iker Casillas, Raul Albiol, Gerard Pique (Sergio Ramos,

90), Andoni Iraola, Alvaro Arbeloa, Javi Martinez, Xavi Hernandez,

Xabi Alonso, Santi Cazorla (Juanma Mata, 67), David Villa (David

Silva, 54), Fernando Llorente.