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International friendly: Spain 5 Venezuela 0

Spain ran out comprehensive 5-0 winners over Venezuela in their international friendly in Malaga on Wednesday.

Roberto Soldado marked his first appearance for Spain since 2007 with a clinical hat-trick, while David Silva and Andres Iniesta were also on the scoresheet as the home side dominated their less illustrious opponents.

Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas was forced into making an early save from Venezuela’s Solomon Rondon, after the striker hit an instinctive shot towards goal from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Iniesta very nearly gave the home side the lead in the 17th after latching on to an incisive ball from Cesc Fabregas and striking a firm effort goalwards. However goalkeeper Dani was a match for the strike and did well to parry the ball to safety.

A swerving effort from Silva gave Dani more problems after 30 minutes, with the keeper perhaps fortunate on this occasion to see the shot flick over the crossbar after the ball had cannoned off his shoulder.

The breakthrough came in the 37th minute courtesy of a neat finish from the edge of the box by Iniesta, after he was found in space by a slick pass from his Barcelona team-mate Fabregas.

Silva added a second for the home side just minutes later with a crisp strike from 20 yards after Fabregas had set him up with a nonchalant back-heel.

Much of the talk before the game surrounded Roberto Soldado’s inclusion in Vicente Del Bosque’s squad following his scintillating form for Valencia this season, and it took the striker just five minutes to leave his mark on the game.

After being introduced at half-time, Soldado scored Spain’s third of the evening on 50 minutes, turning in Santi Cazorla’s cross after some sumptuous build-up play on the edge of the Venezuela penalty area had set the Malaga playmaker free inside the box.

Soldado seemed intent on marking his reintroduction to the Spain setup in style and grabbed another goal just two minutes later, with a confident finish from close range after an inch perfect cross from the right-hand side by Alvaro Arbeloa.

To make matters worse for the away side, they were then reduced to 10 men when Fernando Amorebieta was given a red card for hauling Soldado down inside the penalty area, providing Soldado with the opportunity to seal a fairytale hat-trick with a goal from the spot.

Soldado’s spot-kick was weak however, with Dani diving low to his right to divert it to safety, much to the striker’s despair.

He did not have to wait long for his hat-trick though, scoring the final goal of the game from close range after fine work down the left from his Valencia team-mate Jordi Alba set up the chance.

Wed 29 February, 2012
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