Spain crush Belarus ahead of French showdown

12 October 2012 10:48

World and European champions Spain warmed up for their Group I showdown with France next Tuesday as Pedro Rodriguez fired a hat-trick in a convincing 4-0 victory over Belarus on Friday.

The win moved them alongside France on six points after two matches of their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

A cagey start to the encounter was soon broken open as Spain struck twice in eight first-half minutes thanks to Jordi Alba and Pedro who eased early nerves and set the defending champions on their way to a rousing win.

They grabbed the early goal they wanted after just 12 minutes when Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba played a neat one-two with club teammate Xavi before slotting the ball past Belaurus 'keeper Sergey Veremko for his second international goal.

Vicente Del Bosque's men then began to take control of possession and played a slick passing game that had the home side chasing shadows before another incisive move led to the second goal.

Manchester City playmaker David Silva found space deep in the Belarus half on 21 minutes and played a defence-splitting pass that allowed Barcelona striker Pedro to get behind defender Igor Shitov and chip the ball over the on-rushing Veremko to pad the visitors' lead.

It was the fifth goal in 21 matches for Pedro who was included in the side at the expense of Chelsea striker Fernando Torres and Barcelona's David Villa who were both left on the bench at the outset.

Belarus had little to offer and wilted after the break when Pedro struck again on 69 minutes following another brilliant pass from Xavi and then doused any hopes of a comeback as he completed his hat-trick three minutes later when the home defence collapsed.

"We played a good match and were very complete," said Del Bosque. "The players were relaxed from the beginning and played well together, with depth and recovered the ball well."

"The talent of the players did the rest. Amongst them, Pedro stood out who has been great for his club recently. He is fresh, dynmanic with a good aggressive approach and he gives a bit of variety to our normal game which is to play it to feet."

Real Madrid 'keeper Iker Casillas was forced into a fine save from Andrey Chukhley with five minutes remaining to protect his clean sheet but Spain were always in control and played out the match in composed fashion to keep them on par with the French ahead of their showdown next Tuesday in Madrid.

"Against France on Tuesday, we are playing a complicated opponent because they have a great squad with very good players and strikers who play deep. On top of that, they have some very physical players. It is going to be a demanding match". added Del Bosque.

They now have maximum points from two matches after a pair of tough away games that saw them triumph 1-0 over Georgia in their opener at Tbilisi.

Belarus slumped to their third straight defeat after losing to Georgia and France as they face a mountain to climb in a bid to qualify for their first ever World Cup.

Georgia moved up to third in the pool on four points as they battled to a 1-1 draw in Helsinki against Finland which were the first points for the Scandinavians.

Source: AFP