Spain wrapped up their Confederations Cup preparations with a 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in New York.Goals from substitutes Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata ensured Vicente del Bosque's side the victory at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, but they needed to overcome a determined Irish outfit to seal the win after a sluggish start to proceedings on the East Coast.
Spain wrapped up their preparations for the Confederations Cup with a 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in an international friendly at the Yankee Stadium in New York City.
Goals from substitutes Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata ensured Vicente del Bosque's side the victory, but they needed to overcome a determined Irish outfit to seal the win after a sluggish start to proceedings on the East Coast.
With the reigning world and European champions opening their Confederations Cup campaign in four days' time, the onus was on La Roja to perform admirably against the Irish ahead of the tournament, and the opening exchanges proved to be a distinctly slow affair.
Andres Iniesta fired a shot narrowly over the bar after a brilliant attacking phase in the early stages, but even though Del Bosque's side were typically dominating the possession count, they lacked the potency to trouble David Forde in the Ireland goal.
Nevertheless, the Boys in Green displayed plenty of fight to frustrate their more esteemed opponents - a far cry from last summer's capitulation at Euro 2012, and could've even taken the lead. Gerard Pique's indecision on the ball was punished by Sammon, who fired agonisingly wide when put one on one against Victor Valdes, in the half's best chance.
Spain, however, recovered from their poor opening, as Ireland began to open up. Pique's header had earlier been cleared off the line by Paul McShane, before a neat pass from Pedro in towards David Villa was intercepted at the last moment by the Hull City defender.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men were beginning to ride their luck, and were fortunate to not fall behind. Xavi teed up Pedro, who expertly turned away from his marker before firing a thundering shot off the underside of the crossbar, before David Silva struck hopelessly over the bar from the rebound as Ireland breathed a sigh of relief.
The second half proved to be an equally dogged affair, as Ireland continued to frustrate their opponents. The flurry of substitutions just before the hour allowed the world champions to add a new dimension to their attack, and it almost paid dividends as Jesus Navas tested Forde, before Pique's shot was thwarted by the goalkeeper.
Ireland's resistance was to be broken, as they finally folded. Darren O'Dea's poor clearance was picked up by Alvaro Arbeloa in an advanced position, before substitute Soldado struck cleanly past the impressive Forde to hand La Roja the lead. It could've been two seconds later, had Jordi Alba not struck narrowly wide.
The visitors had a goal chalked off for offside, in controversial circumstances. From a corner, which was helped on into the path of Simon Cox, in an offside position, before the ball was poked home by Sean St Ledger, sending the sizeable Irish contingent inside the stadium into raptures which soon was dashed by the referee's interjection.
Spain rallied from that scare, and finished strongly. Santi Cazorla saw a dipping effort from distance tipped over by substitute Darren Randolph, with Sergio Ramos heading narrowly over the bar from the resulting corner. Juan Mata wrapped up the game with a finely worked second goal, with a delightful chip over the goalkeeper on the back of a fine assist from Santi Cazorla.
Spain take on Uruguay in their Confederations Cup Group B opener on Sunday at the Arena Pernambucano in Recife, as attention turns towards the tournament in Brazil.
Vicente del Bosque will look to continue his side's preparation for the 2013 Confederations Cup when they take on the Republic of Ireland at Yankee Stadium on June 11.
Goals from Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla ensured La Roja picked up a 2-1 win against Haiti on June 8 and the duo will be keen to maintain pressure on Andres Iniesta and Xavi for a starting place against Ireland.
Fernando Torres started the game against Haiti, but Del Bosque will have a welcome selection headache with Roberto Soldado and record goalscorer David Villa also vying for a place.
Just four players remain in the Ireland squad from the team that lost to Spain at Euro 2012, with Simon Cox, Sean St Ledger, James McClean and Robbie Keane included for the tie.
Giovanni Trapattoni's Boys in Green will be without the services of several players, including Shane Long and Aiden McGeady, while goalkeeper Keiren Westwood has been ruled out with an injury, meaning David Forde is likely to start.
John O'Shea pulled out of the squad due to a bereavement, while Stoke City duo Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters are both out of contention with injuries. Centre back Richard Dunne is also unavailable for the clash.
Reigning world and European champions Spain are unbeaten in their last 21 games. Their last defeat came against England in a friendly at Wembley in November 2011, where a Frank Lampard goal was the difference between the sides.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has been in charge of La Roja since July 2008, when he took over from Luis Aragones, who had just guided the team to glory in Euro 2008.
Barcelona striker David Villa is Spain's record goal-scorer, with 53 goals. He remains the only Spanish player to reach 50 international goals.The Republic of Ireland have faced Spain on 25 occasions, winning only four times and losing 14. Their last win against Spain came in April 1989 at Lansdowne Road, where an own goal from Real Madrid's Michel granted an Irish victory.
Ireland last faced Spain in Euro 2012, where they lost 4-0, a game in which Spain set a record for the most passes made in a European Championships game (859).
Since meeting Spain a year ago in June 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland have fallen 23 places in Fifa's World Ranking table to 41. Spain, meanwhile, have been continuously ranked number one since September 2011.
Spain will look to make it 22 games without defeat when they face the Republic of Ireland at the Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.The reigning world champions' impressive run stretches back to November 2011, when a Frank Lampard goal was enough to secure victory for England at Wembley.
|12-06||International friendly: Spain 2 Ireland Republic 0|
|12-06||Spain 2-0 Rep of Ireland: Soldado and Mata secure victory in New York friendly|
|10-06||Spain-Republic of Ireland Preview: La Roja look to continue unbeaten run against Ireland|
|09-06||International Friendly Preview: Spain v Republic of Ireland|