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|Republic of Ireland||Czech Republic|
Reigning world and European champions Spain tore a plucky Venezuela side to shreds in Malaga, with their 5-0 win featuring substitute Roberto Soldado's first three international goals.
In the first half, Andrés Iniesta crashed in a first-time shot and and David Silva completed a one-two with Cesc Fàbregas to make it 2-0, but Valencia CF striker Soldado stole their thunder, coming on at the break and registering a hat-trick as he broke his international duck in style on his third appearance for his country.
Spain were often scintillatingly good. In the opening stages there was urgency and crispness about their passing and movement. Irrespective of Xavi Hernández being left out of the side, the midfield interplay was sumptuous. Silva and Iniesta, particularly, played as if they thought their finals places might be in jeopardy – however ridiculous a thought that is. Each wanted to be on the ball constantly and created an electric current of danger whenever they were.
Fernando Llorente had two headed chances in the first 11 minutes, and Sergio Ramos went still closer, his powerful sixth-minute header slamming off the bar from a Fàbregas cross. Spain began to enjoy themselves, and Silva's slide-rule pass to Iniesta again threatened the first goal in the 16th minute, but Daniel Hernández in the Venezuela goal made the first of a series of good stops.
However, in that dangerous time just before the break, Spain broke the South Americans. First, Fàbregas crossed from the right and his Camp Nou team-mate Iniesta found the target, then three minutes later Manchester City FC midfielder Silva bent a left-footed effort past the Real Valladolid CF keeper.
Picking a final 23 to take to UEFA EURO 2012 from such a huge roster of quality players will be a tough task for Vicente Del Bosque, and it is not getting any easier. Santi Cazorla and Soldado came on at half-time and within the blink of an eye the latter had scored twice, finishing following assists from Cazorla and Álvaro Arbeloa.
By the 65th minute, Soldado could have completed his treble, Fernando Amorebieta seeing red and giving away a penalty for a foul on the striker, but Hernández topped a good night with a spot-kick save. Iker Muniain added to the night with his debut, and Soldado's magic moment arrived with five minutes left, as the Valencia connection saw Jordi Alba cross for his team-mate to finish.
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|Vicente del Bosque (ESP)||César Farías (VEN)|
|Andris Treimanis (LVA)|
|Haralds Gudermanis (LVA), Aleksejs Spasjonnikovs (LVA)|