Spain dominated minnows Puerto Rico in Wednesday’s friendly, but only ran out winners by the odd goal thanks to some poor finishing.
Vicente del Bosque named an attack-minded line-up for this international friendly being played at the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Puerto Rico.
Spain went into the game undefeated from their last 11 games played and having won their last four friendlies whilst opponents Puerto Rico were ranked 138th in the world.
However, La Roja were anticipating a difficult pitch for this game, with the game being played during hurricane season in the country and rain forecast. However, the game kicked off in the afternoon sun.
A relaxed start to proceedings saw the Spanish gain an early footing in the fixture with plenty of early possession against a defensive Puerto Rico side.
Cesc Fabregas threaded Jesus Navas into space down the right flank and whilst his cross found Fernando Torres in the box, the Chelsea man’s on-target shot was blocked by a near defender.
Navas then provided the next penetration beyond the opponents’ defence as a quick one-two with Juanfran Torres earned a corner. From that, goalkeeper Bill Gaudette was forced into a save fro Gerard Pique’s header, before a free-kick was awarded to the home side.
Sevilla winger Navas’ cross on 15 then found Nacho Monreal in front of the opposite post, but his late effort flew high.
Juanfran was soon after forced off with an injury, to be replaced by Alvaro Arbeloa.
Midway through the half Xabi Alonso tried his luck from distance, but his skewed effort sliced a few yards wide of the right-hand post.
Soon after, Torres had Spain’s first clear chance of the match, but Gaudette saved well with one hand from his goal-bound header. Almost immediately following this, Andres Iniesta had a penalty appeal turned down, as he cut into the box from the left and appeared to be tripped.
Santi Cazorla had a low drive saved on 25 as Spain upped a gear to proceedings.
Monreal’s surge down the left was found by a neat Cazorla pass, whilst the Malaga left-back’s cut-back to Fabregas resulted in a blocked shot from the Barcelona man.
Navas low 30-yard shot from distance then brought about an odd save from ‘keeper Gaudette, who opted to save with his feet.
Shortly after, Torres had the ball in the net with a header, but his effort was ruled offside. From the free-kick Gaudette was booked for time-wasting, with five minutes of the first half still to play.
Spain broke the deadlock just before the break with Cazorla’s low central effort from 30 yards out. The shot went through two defenders and swerved slightly, but the goalkeeper will have been disappointed for a misjudged dive, with the ball ending up in the middle of the net.
It was 2-0 soon after, with Fabregas’ strike. Navas’ dinked ball back to the edge of the area found the midfielder who finished with a neat volley just before the break.
Half-time substitute Fernando Llorente, who is reported to have been transferred to Juventus tonight, had the first opportunity of a quiet but controlled start to the second half, but his header was straight at the goalkeeper.
As the pace fell, Puerto Rico pulled a goal back on the counter attack, when substitute Marc Cintron latched on to a through-ball to wrong-foot Pepe Reina and finish low past the ‘keeper’s left.
Llorente soon had another headed effort at the other end as Spain responded but he pulled this one wide. The Athletic forward soon had another opportunity in the air as La Roja moved possession around comfortably once more, but again the striker was off target.
A generally quieter second half almost saw a third goal for Spain, as Fabregas charged forward to pass to Torres, whose curling effort drew a neat stop from Gaudette between the sticks.
Puerto Rico 1-2 Spain
Scorers: Cazorla 42 (S), Fabregas 45 (S), Cintron 65 (PR)
Puerto Rico: Gaudette; S. Jones (Velez 53), N. Delgado (Soto 76), R. Martinez, Vazquez; A. Rivera, Arrieta; Krause, F. Gonzalez (Wilson 84), A. Perez (Cintron 62); Pito Ramos (Rosario 90)
Spain: Reina (Casillas 71); Juanfran (Arbeloa 19), Albiol, Pique (Ramos 46), Monreal (Silva 55); Cesc, Xabi Alonso (Busquets 46), Cazorla; Navas, Torres, Iniesta (Llorente 46)
Ref: Javier Santos (Puerto Rico)