Spain defeat Costa Rica in friendly; Cesc Fabregas with assist and goal
LEON, Spain -- Cesc Fabregas scored one goal and set up another to lead Spain's 2-1 comeback win over Costa Rica in a friendly on Thursday.
Johan Venegas put Costa Rica ahead in the sixth minute, but Fabregas passed for Paco Alcacer to level two minutes later. Fabregas scored Spain's second goal on the half-hour mark. Aleix Vidal played a part in Fabregas' goal in his international debut, but Barcelona's new signing was substituted at halftime after Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez landed on his left ankle late in the first half. Spain travels to Belarus for a 2016 European Championship qualifier on Sunday. Spain, the two-time defending European champion, is in second place in Group C, three points behind leader Slovakia.
Spain's win was marred by some of its fans jeering Gerard Pique every time he touched the ball after he went on as a second-half substitute. The jeers were apparently because Pique, a Barcelona player, made a joke at the expense of Real Madrid during Barcelona's celebration last weekend for winning the Champions League, Spanish league, and Copa del Rey treble. ''I don't think (Pique) deserves it, he has always defended Spain's colors to the utmost,'' defender Marca Bartra said. ''I can't tell the people what to do, but I hope it stops.''
Costa Rica started well when Venegas slotted the ball beyond David de Gea after Joel Campbell received a long ball down the left flank before finding the midfielder. But Alcacer hit right back after Fabregas played him clear with a deft pass, leaving the striker all alone to beat Keylor Navas. It was then Fabregas' turn to tap in a cross from Vidal, redirected by Manuel ''Nolito'' Agudo to put the hosts in charge for good.
Only Navas' goalkeeping prevented Costa Rica from a greater defeat, as he saved strikes by Sergio Ramos and substitutes Santi Cazorla and David Silva in the second half.