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Reigning European champions Spain started their campaign to reach the 2012 finals with an emphatic 4-0 away win against Liechtenstein.
Spain travelled to Vaduz on a high following their FIFA World Cup triumph this summer and duly strolled to victory thanks to goals from David Villa, David Silva and a double from the rejuvenated Fernando Torres. That assured Vicente del Bosque's side of a winning margin double the one they mustered on their last visit three years ago and strong start to Group I.
Indeed, had it not been for local hero Peter Jehle, the FC Vaduz goalkeeper who was winning his 80th cap in his home stadium, Spain might have struck six before half-time. Within three minutes of kick-off the 28-year-old had already denied Spain's World Cup final hero, Andrés Iniesta, and clutched a dangerous Villa header.
Del Bosque had emphasised that goal difference "could be crucial" to group victory but Jehle refused the visitors a free ride. Although Liechtenstein were organised and stubborn in their blanket defence, the clever movement and passing of Xavi Hernández and his FC Barcelona team-mate Iniesta consistently gave Torres and Villa chances to test Jehle.
Spain were relentless. Villa and Iniesta's 18th-minute combination freed Liverpool FC striker Torres and his exquisite lob nestled in the far corner. The visitors' metronomic passing continued to wear the hosts down and Villa made it two eight minutes later with a right-footed drive which leaves him one short of Raúl González's record 44 goals for Spain.
Bidu Zaugg's valiant side carved out opportunities of their own and Iker Casillas needed to be alert to save from David Hasler before the break and also to block at the feet of Liechtenstein captain Mario Frick early in the second half.
Torres, however, made it 3-0 with a rasping shot nine minutes after the break for his third goal in two games for club and country after a drought which had stretched back to March. His replacement Silva added the fourth after only five minutes on the pitch. As full time approached Silva set up Villa for what would have been his record-equalling goal only for the striker's shot to come back off the crossbar. The striker will have another chance in next week's friendly against Argentina, while Liechtenstein travel to Scotland on Tuesday.
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