Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Torres a Spain in the neck for sorry New Zealand

Spain extended their unbeaten run to 33 matches with an embarrassingly one-sided 5-0 win over New Zealand in their Confederations Cup opener.

The top team in Oceania were no match for the European Champions, who were 4-0 up inside 24 minutes with Liverpool striker Fernando Torres grabbing a hat-trick.

Cesc Fabregas was also on the scoresheet with David Villa netting a fifth in front of a sparse crowd in the mining town of Rustenburg.

New Zealand were without captain Ryan Nelsen of Blackburn and his absence proved key as their defensive limitations were cruelly exposed by a team possessing some of the best attacking players in the world.

Despite the tournament coming at the end of a long European season, Spain looked fresh and took the game to the All Whites from the off.

And it took only six minutes for Torres to make his mark with the opener before going on to complete his treble inside 20 minutes.

Joan Capdevila and Villa spared New Zealand further humiliation by firing shots wide, while Fabregas blazed over from close range as Spain continued to create chances.

Simon Elliott went closest for New Zealand, but his low shot from 30 yards was comfortably saved by Iker Casillas.

Earlier, South Africa and Iraq failed to find the back of the net but still produced an entertaining start to the tournament in Johannesburg.

The hosts showed plenty of attacking intent throughout the game but were let down by poor execution, with the best chance of the game, a header by Kagisho Dikgacoi, cleared off the line by team-mate Bernard Parker.

After 80 minutes of frustration, South Africa came closest to a breakthrough in the final 10 minutes.

Substitute Katlego Mashego almost made an instant impact after winning a bouncing ball in the area and finding himself one-on-one, only to see his shot somehow kept out by goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid, who spread his body in a bid to avert the obvious danger.

Parker followed that up with another good chance, when he spun in the box and fired a rising shot that was well dealt with by the Iraqi custodian.

But the Red Star Belgrade striker was then responsible for helping out the visitors when Dikgacoi's header looked certain to break deadlock, only for the ball to hit Parker on his body and somehow stay out.

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