Perfect Spain extinguish Scotland hopes
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Spain 3-1 Scotland
David Silva struck twice and David Villa added a third as Scotland's UEFA EURO 2012 hopes vanished with defeat in Alicante.
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Spain made elegant work of ensuring that they finished Group I with a perfect qualifying record, thus denying Scotland access to the play-offs for UEFA EURO 2012.
The holders' 3-1 victory came courtesy of two goals from David Silva plus David Villa's 50th for his country, meaning that the Czech Republic, winners in Lithuania, sealed second spot in the section and remain in contention for next summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
A majestic first half from the home side, who displayed skill, assurance and clever finishing, took the sting out of their thorny opponents. Traditionally, the time-honoured manner of pacifying dangerous rivals is to score first and to do so quickly. Not for nothing are Vicente del Bosque's troops both world and European champions and, after exchanging initial pleasantries, they constructed a passing movement which would have reached 50 exchanges had Silva not converted debutant Jordi Alba's clever fifth-minute centre.
Until that point, silky Spain had at least found Scotland competitive. But despite the waves of noise descending from the extraordinary away supporters – the Scottish fans having once more travelled in impressive numbers to back their team – Del Bosque's side managed their lead with panache.
Scotland attempted their own passing movements through deft touches from Darren Fletcher, Barry Bannan and Charlie Adam, but the Spaniards were boxing clever. Allan McGregor made a commendable sprawling dive to prevent Villa from making it 2-0, yet for the Alicantinos, who had waited over a decade to see the national team return to a city where they beat Liechtenstein in 2001, there was little suspense.
By half-time Silva, from a Pedro Rodríguez pass, had made it 2-0 and the Manchester City FC attacker finished his outstanding night with a second-half assist for the hungry Villa. Víctor Valdés marked his otherwise calm competitive debut by fouling substitute David Goodwillie for a penalty which the same striker converted with 25 minutes left, but the game ended with Santi Cazorla, and Pedro, wasting clear chances to add Spain's fourth.