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International friendly: Spain 3 Uruguay 1

Spain came alive in the second half to dispatch Uruguay 3-1 in an engaging international friendly at Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday.

It was a landmark day for Spain, with veteran Carles Puyol picking up his 100th international cap, while Cesar Azpilicueta, Isco and Mario Suarez all made their senior debuts.

A horrible error from Fernando Muslera saw Cesc Fabregas give Spain the lead, but Uruguay restored parity with a well-taken goal by Cristian Rodriguez to enter half-time all square.

But the European champions would take control of the game in the second half, as Pedro scored six minutes after the restart before striking his second with a quarter of an hour remaining.

It was a moment of humiliation from Muslera that gifted Spain the lead after 16 minutes.

Fabregas’ shot from 30 yards seemed like a routine catch, but the ‘keeper allowed the ball to slip from his grasp and into the back of the net.

The South American side nearly responded within moments, but Edinson Cavani, having chased down a long pass from Diego Perez, could not bring the ball under control in time to beat the onrushing Victor Valdes.

Seconds before the half-hour mark, Puyol stabbed home a cross to seemingly mark his occasion with a goal to put Spain in front, but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.

The call was doubly hard for Spain to swallow because, within minutes, Uruguay were level in Doha.

Martin Caceres, who looked lively at left-back throughout the first half, played a low pass into the feet of Rodriguez, who turned away from Puyol before placing his shot into the bottom corner.

Uruguay, to their credit, did not seem fazed by Spain’s customary dominance of possession, and more than matched the European champions to deservedly enter the half-time break level.

But Spain started the second half on fire, and six minutes after the restart, surged back in front.

Half-time substitute Gerard Pique pounced on a giveaway by the defence to release Pedro, who slid his effort into the far corner.

Cavani again had a chance to respond instantly, but after latching onto another incisive pass from Perez, drilled his strike agonisingly wide of the far post.

But Spain were always in control of the second half, and put the game beyond Uruguay’s reach with a quarter of an hour to go.

A sweeping counter-attack saw Fabregas release David Villa, who in turn crossed for Pedro to stab home at the far post.

Both sides will be in action next for their World Cup qualifiers on March 22, as Spain host Finland, while Uruguay welcome Paraguay.

Wed 6 February, 2013
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