First half goals from Santi Cazorla and Juanfran were enough to give Spain a 2-1 win over Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.
Vicente del Bosque gave Marc Bartra his debut in the centre of defence, with Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez alongside him. Elsewhere, the Roja took to the field with an experimental line-up, as Juanfran and Alberto Moreno completed the defence, with Xabi Alonso coming back for his first national team since March.
It was clear from the off that La Roja were the dominant force, and to nobody’s surprise dominated the ball early on. A few through balls from midfield failed to find their intended targets, but after just seven minutes a move down the right found Jesus Navas, whose lob was just tipped over the bar by Danilo.
Cazorla’s cross/shot was clumsily dealt with soon after, and Koke’s weak effort dribbled past the post on 10 minutes – but despite the poor finishing, the world champions were easily on top.
And it didn’t take them long to go a goal up, as on 12 minutes, the Arsenal playmaker pounced on a mistake from Danilo, and tapped the ball into an empty net.
The home side were attempting to play some football, but struggled up against the might of the World Cup holders. In attack, the Roja were looking sumptuous, but it was Navas who was causing the biggest threat with his pace on the right-hand side.
The Manchester City was a permanent threat out wide, and should have doubled his team’s lead on the half hour mark, but pulled his effort wide of the post.
But on 37 minutes though, they paid for their profligacy, as the African team equalised against the run of play. A corner found Jimmy Bermudez at the back post, and the centre back rose highest to head past Pepe Reina.
With just a few minutes left though, Spain got their lead back thanks to Juanfran. The Atletico Madrid man got on the end of a Juan Mata cross, and smashed in from close range.
After the break, Del Bosque’s men continued to have a monopoly on possession, and almost pulled further, but Fernando Llorente’s shot was saved easily by Danilo.
The Juventus man was then denied a perfectly legitimate goal on the hour mark, but Andres Iniesta was deemed, wrongly, to be in an offside position when he squared for the towering centre-forward.
A host of changes made the game a more disjointed affair, with neither team able to carve out any real opportunities as the match fizzled out.
Equatorial Guinea 1-2 Spain
Scorers: Bermudez 37 (G); Cazorla 12 (S), Juanfran 42 (S)
Equatorial Guinea: Danilo; Bermúdez, Sipo, Mbele, Kily; Randy, Juvenal; Balboa (Bodipo 86), Nsue, Belima; Iván Bolado (Dio 46)
Spain: Reina; Juanfran, Bartra, Íñigo Martinez (Ramos 81), Alberto, Xabi Alonso (Busquets 43); Koke (Iniesta 57), Cazorla (Villa 57); Navas (Pedro 65), Negredo (Llorente 45), Mata.