Monday, September 8, 2008


MURCIA, Spain (September 8,2008) - David Villa scored a second-half goal to give European champion Spain a 1-0 win over Bosnia in its opening World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Villa decided the Group 5 game at La Condomina Stadium when he received Cesc Fabregas' pass, evaded advancing Bosnian goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic before firing into the empty net from an acute angle in the 58th minute.

The 26-year-old striker's goal atoned for his first-half penalty miss and took his tally to 19 in 37 internationals.

Villa, who recently signed a six-year contract with Valencia, top scored at the European Championships in June with four goals to help Spain lift its first major trophy in 44 years.

"It was a shame I missed the penalty, but in the end I scored from open play. We probably deserved a goal earlier. The final scoreline wasn't big enough," Villa told Spanish state TV.

Spain's win over Bosnia extended its unbeaten run to 24 games in its first competitive match under coach Vicente Del Bosque, who took charge in August after Luis Aragones joined Fenerbahce.

"We had trouble finding space in the first half, but in the second half tiredness got the better of our opponents and we took advantage," Del Bosque said.

Despite being ranked by FIFA as the best team in the world and seen an early favorite to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Spain struggled to break down Bosnia's defense in the first half and was very troubled by its Bosnia's counterattacks.

The home team, lacking injured Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Valencia midfielder David Silva, dominated the early stages with Bosnia defenders Dzemal Berberovic and Dario Damjanovic picking up yellow cards for fouls on left winger Diego Capel.

Bosnia, playing its first competitive match under veteran coach Miroslav Blazevic, mounted its first dangerous attack in the 17th, forcing goalkeeper Iker Casillas to leave his goal to smother Zvjezdan Misimovic's through pass.

Xavi Hernandez headed weakly into Hasagic's hands in the 26th and Marcos Senna's long-range shot hit the crossbar a minute later as Spain regained control.

Capel, emerging as Spain's most dangerous player, was then fouled in the area by Samir Muratovic, only for Villa to send his spot kick wide in the 36th after employing a shorter run-up than usual.

Spain gave a more purposeful display in the second half and twice came close to scoring before Villa scored.

Video: Spain 1:0 Bosnia - Highlights

Del Bosque swapped Capel for Santi Cazorla in the 72nd and the substitute immediately tested Hasagic with a volley. Moments later, the Bosnian goalkeeper parried another long shot by Senna, with Villa unable to profit from the rebound.

With Spain starting to display the skillful touches which helped it become European champion, Villa beat two defenders and fired wide in the 80th.

After Villa was replaced by Daniel Guiza five minutes later, Andres Iniesta shot wide after a penetrating run as Spain finished in control of the game.

Spain entertains Armenia in Albacete in its second qualifying game on Wednesday. Bosnia hosts Estonia the same day. Also in the group are Turkey and Belgium.


Bosnia: Kenan Hasagic, Safet Nadarevic, Dzemal Berberovic (Vedad Ibisevic, 65), Ivan Radeljic, Elvir Rahimic, Dario Damjanovic (Senijad Ibricic, 81), Zvjezdan Misimovic, Sejad Salihovic, Samir Muratovic, Edin Dzeko (Miralem Pjanic, 84), Admir Vladavic.

Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna, Cesc Fabregas (Xabi Alonso, 65), Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Diego Capel (Santi Cazorla, 72), David Villa (Daniel Guiza, 85).

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