Spain 2-0 Honduras
Spain got their FIFA World Cup™ campaign back on track with a win against Honduras that was far more comprehensive than the 2-0 scoreline indicated. The Central Americans were the unlucky victims as the European champions returned to the kind of form which placed them among the pre-tournament favourites, David Villa claiming the Budweiser Man of the Match award for his two-goal haul.
Spain’s victory lifted them alongside Switzerland with a win apiece, though still three points off Group H pacesetters Chile, their final opponents on Friday. Honduras, meanwhile, now need to win their last match against Switzerland, and hope Chile do them a favour against Spain, to have any hope of progressing.
Injury to Andres Iniesta saw Spain coach Vicente del Bosque reshuffle his pack with Fernando Torres brought into the line-up to join Villa in attack. Sevilla’s right-sided flanker Jesus Navas was also given a place in the starting XI with David Silva omitted. It was no surprise to see Spain, undoubtedly stung by their opening loss to Switzerland, start in an attacking mode. Villa rattled the crossbar after just six minutes with an effort from 25 metres, while Sergio Ramos was unable to get downward force on a free header at the back post just minutes later.
Spain caused constant problems on both flanks with Villa operating on the left and Navas on the right. Villa appeared to be in supremely confident mood and it was no surprise to see Barcelona’s recent signing open the scoring with what is set to be one of the individual goals of the tournament. Cutting in from the left, Villa dissected a path through two defenders when there appeared to be none, before rounding a third attempt at a tackle and unleashing a shot into the roof of the net.
On the half-hour mark, Torres had two good openings within the space of 60 seconds as Spain upped the ante further still. The Liverpool man, perhaps still showing signs of rustiness after his return from injury last month, guided a header into the ground and over the crossbar, before then skying his shot after a dribble into the penalty area. Honduras rarely threatened in the opening period, winning their first corner only in the final minute of the half. Honduran speed-merchant David Suazo received scant service up front as La Roja dominated midfield possession.
The second half started disastrously for the Hondurans with Villa doubling the advantage just six minutes after the restart, his shot from 20 metres taking a wicked deflection off the knee of Osman Chavez and looping over the outstretched hand of stranded goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Just past the hour, Emilio Izaguirre’s foul on Navas in the penalty area gave Villa a golden opportunity to record a hat-trick but he pushed his spot-kick wide and in the process became the first Spain player to miss a penalty at the FIFA World Cup.
Nevertheless, Spain appeared certain to kill off the game with a third goal, only to be guilty at times of overplaying the passing movement when presented with a shooting opportunity. Substitute Cesc Fabregas appeared certain to score with his first involvement but, after springing the offside trap and rounding Valladares, the Arsenal skipper saw his shot impressively cleared off the line by a retreating Chavez. Honduras found some joy in attack in the final stages with Suazo firing wide and half-time substitute Georgie Welcome guiding a header the wrong side of the post. Yet Spain were still the team pushing hard until the final whistle with only some determined defending and their own profligacy ensuring the scoreline remained unchanged.