Llorente relieved as Spain find way through
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Match-winner Fernando Llorente warned Spain that Lithuania's dogged defensive display could be a taste of things to come as the FIFA World Cup winners were pushed to the limit in Salamanca.
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Fernando Llorente may have been Spain's match-winner against Lithuania, but the two-goal striker believes the 3-1 win in Salamanca gives a good indication of what the world and European champions can expect in the immediate future.
The towering striker feels Spain's rivals will have studied the FIFA World Cup in detail and few, if any, will venture to attack Vicente Del Bosque's side who have now won their first two matches in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group I. So when Lithuania defended stubbornly, refused to take many risks but then broke venomously on the counterattack and rocked the home team with Darvydas Šernas's 54th-minute equaliser, Llorente felt this was the shape of things to come.
"This was another complicated game which we have to feel very happy to have won because Lithuania just put everyone behind the ball and then broke very dangerously if we lost possession," Llorente told UEFA.com. "To add my two goals and take three points from a test like this is immensely satisfying but I want to say 'hats off' to Sergio Ramos and Santi Cazorla, who gave me two brilliant crosses for the goals. Without service like that strikers don't score.
"Now I think we face not only another test like this in Glasgow [against Scotland on Tuesday] but many such games in the future because teams have learned how to defend well and break with speed. The key for Spain from now on will be that whenever we get a slight sniff of goal we must take the chance."
One of those two goal providers, Cazorla, obviously enjoyed his evening more than most after a cruelly injury-hit season robbed him of the chance to add to the UEFA European Championship medal he won two years ago by joining the squad which claimed the FIFA World Cup this summer. Having been offered his chance, he was determined to take it.
"It is difficult to break into this team after what they have achieved so even though I only received my chance because of the bad luck Xavi Alonso suffered in feeling ill on the day of the match, I was determined to do my bit," he told UEFA.com. "The big thing for our team tonight was that Fernando was on such superb form and he tucked away the chances clinically."
Valencia CF-based defender Marius Stankevičius felt proud that despite their efforts not yielding even a point, Lithuania – who fell to their first defeat in three matches in the section – had forced the world and European champions to noticeably break sweat. "We are a small country where football isn't even the premier sport and yet the way we tried to play made sure Spain only won by showing why they are the best around right now," he told UEFA.com.
"Spain hold the ball for so long you are a bit tired when you get it, and even though we played well and tried to come out and attack them it was too difficult. I have people in the Valencia dressing room who are good team-mates and already very respectful. They will see we gained experience and confidence from playing like this against the best football side in the world."