Spain wins 2-0 at Czech Republic in Euro qualifier
Spain struck twice in the first half to win 2-0 at the Czech Republic on Friday and maintain a perfect record in its 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign in Group I.
Juan Mata put the defending champion ahead six minutes into the match with a low shot past goalkeeper Petr Cech after collecting a precise through pass from Xavi.
The World Cup holders dominated possession and Xabi Alonso put the result beyond doubt by doubling the advantage in the 23rd with a right-foot drive from inside the area off a low cross from David Silva.
''We had a good start, scored a goal and then dominated the entire match,'' Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said through an interpreter.
''I'm glad that we managed to win and we will play in the same way against Scotland.''
The Czechs were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute after Tomas Hubschman was sent off for a rough tackle on Alonso.
Substitute Javi Martinez came close to adding a third goal in the 78th minute but Cech produced a perfect save to deny him in a one-on-one situation. Two minutes later, Martinez hit the crossbar.
Striker Fernando Torres was in the starting lineup but failed to break a yearlong scoring drought with the national team. His last goals for Spain came on Sept. 3 last year when he scored twice in a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in the opening Euro 2012 qualifier.
''The goal for him was to stay calm and receive a lot of balls,'' Del Bosque said. ''But that was not easy to do because the Czech players marked him tightly.''
''There was a big difference between the teams,'' Czech Republic coach Michal Bilek said. ''We made a mistake at the start and that influenced the rest of the game.''
His team failed to hit the target throughout the match.
Spain, which had already qualified for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, leads Group I with 21 points from seven matches.
The Czech Republic is second on 10 points and travels to Lithuania for their final qualifier on Tuesday.
Scotland, which is third two points behind the Czechs, has a chance to jump to second by winning at Liechtenstein on Saturday before playing Spain on Tuesday in the last game.
Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Michal Kadlec, Roman Hubnik, Tomas Sivok, Tomas Rosicky, Daniel Pudil, Tomas Hubschman, Daniel Kolar (Kamil Vacek, 77), Petr Jiracek, Milan Baros (Tomas Pekhart, 62).
Spain: Iker Casillas, Raul Albiol, Gerard Pique, Juan Manuel Mata, Xabi Alonso (Javi Martinez, 71), Sergio Ramos (Carles Puyol, 46), Sergio Busquets, Alvaro Arbeloa, David Silva, Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres (David Villa, 61).
The game could give Torres a chance to break a yearlong scoring drought with the national team.
His last goals for Spain came on Sept. 3 last year when he scored a double in a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in the opening Euro 2012 qualifier.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has made it clear that Torres will need to show improvement soon.