Spain vs. Saudi Arabia  5 - 0

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Rijkaard: Spain the best I´ve ever seen

8 September 2012 15:00

Saudi Arabia coach Frank Rijkaard has voiced his admiration for Spain in the wake of his side's 5-0 loss to the world champions on Friday.

Goals from Santi Cazorla and Pedro put the hosts two goals up at half-time, before Xavi, David Villa and a second fine finish from Pedro made it five after the break.

Rijkaard, who was in charge at Barcelona from 2003 to 2008, had nothing but praise for Spain's performance.

"This Spanish team has been impressing the entire footballing world. I have never seen a national team play as well as Spain," the Dutchman told reporters.

"Xavi and (Andres) Iniesta are among the best players in the world. They can be decisive in any team they play for.

"Spain deservedly beat us. They created so many chances. We already knew it would be very difficult, though. We locked horns with the best team in the world and this is a correct result."

Spain will be looking to start their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign on a high on Tuesday when they take on Georgia.

Article

Villa delighted with Spain return

8 September 2012 07:50

Spain striker David Villa was delighted to score on his return to international football on Friday.

Villa, who was forced out of his nation's winning Euro 2012 campaign after breaking his leg, scored in Spain's comfortably 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in a friendly.

The 30-year-old scored the side's fourth goal from the penalty spot, and afterwards admitted his joy at returning to play for his country after his Euro absence.

"I'm happy to be here again," the Barcelona forward told TVE.

"I've had a hard time out there.

"I've missed my national team so much, the games and the (training camps) with my team-mates. But I will not look back."

Villa's Spanish strike partner Fernando Torres won his 100th cap to take him to sixth on the all-time list, but the Chelsea forward is still 38 matches behind Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

"(Torres) will make many more appearances," Villa said.

"He's in a sweet moment and is a unique player for our country."

Spain open their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign against Georgia on Tuesday, with matches against fellow Group I sides France, Belarus and Finland to follow.

Article

International friendly: Spain 5 Saudi Arabia 0

8 September 2012 00:32

Spain warmed up for their opening 2014 World Cup qualifier with a predictably facile 5-0 friendly win over Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Santi Cazorla opened the scoring and Pedro doubled the home side's advantage soon after. Substitute Xavi netted a third two minutes into the second half before Barcelona team-mate David Villa announced his return to the international arena by converting a penalty shortly after entering the fray.

Pedro then put the seal on an impressive individual display when he tucked away a terrific through-ball from David Silva with 17 minutes remaining.

The reigning world and two-time European champions, who take their first step on the road to Rio against Georgia next week, fielded an experimental starting lineup, with Xavi and Andres Iniesta among those named on the bench. However, La Roja still had far too much class for a game but limited Saudi Arabia side.

Indeed, the only surprise was that it took so long for them to break the deadlock, although that was primarily down to Fernando Torres' wayward finishing, who was appearing for the 100th time for Spain.

As it was, it was left to another member of Spain's Premier League contingent, Cazorla, to open the scoring, the Arsenal schemer tapping home from close range after Waleed Abdullah could only parry a shot from Pedro.

The latter made no mistake five minutes later, finding the back of the net with a delightful chip just moments after Nasser Al-Shamrani had gone close with a header for the visitors.

Cazorla, who had teed up Pedro for the second, then very nearly conjured a third goal for the home side but his sublime curling effort cruelly came back off the woodwork.

Still, Spain did put the outcome beyond all doubt when Xavi, who had replaced Cesc Fabregas during the interval, found the top corner with a free-kick that saw the ball not only find its way past Abdullah - but also through a hole in the net.

Substitute Villa, who has only just recovered from the horrific leg break he suffered last December, made it 4-0 from the penalty spot, after Sayyaf Al-Beeshi had felled Monreal in the area.

Pedro then heaped further misery on the beleaguered Saudis when he latched onto a defence-splitting pass from David Silva before coolly dinking the ball over Abdullah, putting himself in real contention for a starting berth in Tuesday's Group I clash with Georgia in Tbilisi.

Article

International friendly preview: Spain to host Saudi Arabia

5 September 2012 11:30

World and European champions Spain host Saudi Arabia in international friendly action on Friday, while Brazil play South Africa.

Spain became the first country to win three successive international tournaments when they defeated Italy 4-0 to defend their European Championship crown in Kiev on July 1.

Prior to that, Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

Their next challenge is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to retain the FIFA World Cup.

The first real step on the road to what would be a monumental achievement is a qualifier away to Georgia on Tuesday.

Before that, they will tune-up with a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Pontevedra, Galicia.

The Saudis' last outing, an Asian World Cup qualifier, ended in a 4-2 defeat away to Australia in February.

Also on Friday, 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil meet the country entrusted with staging that competition's previous instalment, South Africa, in a friendly.

As hosts of the next World Cup, Brazil are exempt from South America's marathon qualification campaign.

But that does leave Mano Menezes' squad with a dearth of competitive fixtures in which to test themselves.

A Brazil Under-23 squad boasting what is expected to form the basis of their World Cup roster were surprisingly beaten by Mexico in the final of the London 2012 Olympic football competition in August.

And Brazil also struggled at last year's Copa America in Argentina, losing to Paraguay in the quarter-finals.

South Africa however are not expected to trouble Brazil in Sao Paulo - they won a friendly with Gabon 3-0 in their last outing in June, but sit a disappointing third in their own African World Cup qualifying group, behind Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.

In other international friendlies on Thursday, Lebanon host Australia, Sweden take on China and Japan tackle the United Arab Emirates.

Brazil are in action again on Monday, when they host China in Recife.