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Xavi gives credit to Torres after tricky assignment

David Villa became Spain's all-time top scorer in their 2-1 win against the Czech Republic, but Xavi Hernàndez told UEFA.com Fernando Torres was "the key to victory on a complicated night".

Fernando Torres (centre) played a key role after coming on at the interval
Fernando Torres (centre) played a key role after coming on at the interval ©Getty Images

Spain provided a wealth of headlines to go with their 2-1 win against the Czech Republic in Granada, with Xavi Hernàndez winning his 100th cap and David Villa becoming the country's all-time top scorer.

Villa struck twice in quick succession to ensure the world and European champions overturned a first-half deficit to record their fourth straight UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group I victory. In doing so, the FC Barcelona striker took his international tally to 46 goals, two clear of Raúl Gonzàlez. Though he and Xavi  took the limelight, it was the less heralded influence of Fernando Torres which was highlighted.

"I don't care if David steals all the headlines from me given that he scored great goals and won us three points," Xavi told UEFA.com. "The manager bringing on Fernando [at half-time] was the key to our victory on a complicated night. As soon as we played with two strikers the Czech central defenders were occupied in dealing with him, which left much more space for Andrés [Iniesta], for Villa, and for me."

Jaroslav Plašil had fired the visitors in front just before the half-hour with a lovely left-footed drive, meaning Vicente del Bosque's side were forced to roll up their sleeves. "They were getting nowhere near our goal but scored from long range," Villa told UEFA.com. "We created two first-half chances which any keeper other than Petr Čech would not have saved.

"The fact my goals gave me the record is of less significance than winning the game. I hope to be playing for Spain for many more years and adding a lot more to my total." Čech’s heroics so nearly extended to denying Villa's winner from the spot, but the Chelsea FC keeper was ultimately left to rue what might have been. "Our plan wasn't defensive but to hit with fast counterattacks," he said.

"Then we got the goal, which was brilliant. Spain had no other option than to take risks and go all-out attack. I knew Fernando would come on, which added striking power. We lacked very little and their penalty was a pity because I went the right way, timed the dive and got a hand to it. I honestly thought the ball would hit the post and go past. In the end, they had enough chances to score more so we have to respect that."