Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ecuador 0-2 Spain: Negredo nets in facile win for la Roja

The game was stopped in the 11th minute as players and fans paid their respects to Ecuador striker Christian Benitez, who died last month, while Negredo and Santi Cazorla scored

Goals in either half for Alvaro Negredo and Santi Cazorla saw Spain post a relatively comfortable 2-0 friendly win over Ecuador on Wednesday.

The world and European champions dealt with the altitude in Guayaquil well as Vicente del Bosque's side produced a professional win despite the absence of several of their stars.

Negredo's flick in the 25th minute set Spain on their way before Cazorla, who made the most of a rare start, sealed the triumph in the
second half.

None of Xavi, Juan Mata, Fernando Torres or Gerard Pique were involved in South America for Spain, but Del Bosque did give new Manchester City signing Negredo a chance to lead the line up front.

Ecuador picked a strong side that relied heavily on the attacking instincts of Felipe Caicedo and Joao Rojas, but they were quickly on the back foot.

Spain were inches away from scoring after just three minutes as they carved open the Ecuador defence with a trademark passing move before Silva saw his effort hit the bar.

Negredo volleyed over shortly after, before players and fans stopped during the 11th minute to pay their respects to Christian Benitez, who wore the same number for Ecuador.

The striker died last month of heart failure, aged just 27, and his memory was warmly applauded while the capacity crowd sung his nickname – 'Chucho' – loudly.

Andres Iniesta hit the post in the 22nd minute with a 20-yard effort from distance and it was a warning sign Colombia did not heed.

Just three minutes later – after Caicedo wasted a free header - and Negredo put them into the lead, producing an outrageous backheel flick after sublime build-up work from Cazorla.

At the other end, Gabriel Achilier nodded a free-kick wide while Segundo Castillo forced a good save from Iker Casillas from 20 yards, but Spain were well worth their half-time lead.

Del Bosque removed Negredo, Iniesta and Silva at the break, with Thiago Alcantara, Jesus Navas and Fernando Llorente introduced in their place.

Colombia slowly worked themselves into the match and they should have equalised in the 61st minute, only for Enner Valencia to head onto the crossbar.

But Spain delivered the sucker punch as Cazorla benefited from Cristian Tello's neat flick before surging into the penalty area and driving a right-footed finish past Maximo Banguera.

Colombia had a few half-chances to pull a goal back but lacked quality in the final third, while Llorente nodded wide from a Navas cross when he should have done better.

Spain deserved victory, though, with a disciplined and organised performance sure to please manager Del Bosque.

For Ecuador, the result was far from ideal, with crucial 2014 World Cup qualifiers ahead against Colombia and Bolivia next month.