World champions Spain book ticket for Brazil

Posted By: IANS
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Madrid, Oct 16: Defending World Cup champions Spain assured they will be able to defend their crown in Brazil next summer when they confirmed their place in the World Cup finals with a 2-0 win at home to Georgia Tuesday night.

In a game in which they only needed to draw in order to qualify for the finals the Spanish were in control from start to finish against a side that lacked their technical quality and which set out to defend from the start, Xinhua reported.

Goals in each half: from Alvaro Negredo, who also netted against Belarus Friday, and Juan Mata gave Spain their triumph.

With the game played in Albacete's Carlos Belmonte Stadium, there was no doubt that local boy Andres Iniesta, who scored the goal that took the Spanish to their memorable 2010 triumph, was the man the home fans wanted to see.

Iniesta took his place in midfield alongside his FC Barcelona club-mates Xabi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, while despite the importance of the game, Del Bosque handed a debut to young defender Alberto Moreno and gave the nod to powerful striker Negredo in attack.

Expecting to play against a packed defence, Del Bosque also started with Pedro and Jesus Navas in an attempt to inject pace into his side's forward line and Naves almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute before being crowded out by the visitors.

With Negredo looking to prove he deserves to be Spain's first choice striker and Pedro using his pace, all of the chances were falling for the home side with the most spectacular a Negredo overhead kick which dropped just wide.

He got his reward after 25 minutes, finishing off a move 'made in Barca' as Pedro and Iniesta combined to allow him a simple finish to put Spain ahead.

He could have doubled the lead five minutes from halftime following a cross from his Manchester City team-mate Navas, but his effort hit the post.

With Spain needing to concede two goals in the second half to miss out, the fans in Albacete were already celebrating as the second half kicked off and qualification was sealed on the hour when Juan Mata, who had replaced Pedro just three minutes earlier, scored his side's second with a neat volley on virtually his first touch of the night.

Georgia showed little sign of reacting to the second goal, indeed they hardly troubled Iker Casillas, who returned in goal ahead of Victor Valdes, all night and for the remaining minutes the chances all fell Spain's way with Iniesta and Negredo both going close, while Navas almost added a third as the Spanish fans' thoughts turned to Brazil.


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