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0 vs 1
Played
September 11, 2012 6:30 PM BST
Boris Paichadzis Erovnuli Stadioni — Tbilisi
Referee:‬ S. Moen‎
Attendance:‬ 54598‎
 
 
Top of the Match
Roberto Soldado
Roberto Soldado
Spain
Giorgi Loria
Giorgi Loria
Georgia
Flop of the Match
Arbeloa
Arbeloa
Spain
David Silva
David Silva
Spain

Georgia 0-1 Spain: Soldado strikes late to spare blushes of world champions

Vicente Del Bosque's men were far from their best as they struggled to break down the determined hosts, but a timely goal from the Valencia striker gave them the points in the end

By Keeghann Sinanan

Soldado - Spain - Georgia
Getty Images
Spain's journey to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil got off to a stuttering start, after a narrow 1-0 win against Georgia in their opening qualifying match in Group I at the Boris Paichadze National Stadium.

The defending world and European champions kept the hosts pinned back in their own half for the vast majority of the contest, but struggled to find a way through their defensive ranks as chances remained at a premium.

Georgia defended admirably throughout, but their resistance was broken four minutes from the end by Roberto Soldado, who swept home from close range to give Spain a win they barely deserved.

The Valencia man started as the lone striker as Fernando Torres, who captained the team to a 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in his 100th cap on Friday, was dropped to the bench.

As expected, Spain wasted little time in snatching control of possession, but were made to work hard to find an opening by a Georgia team who had no interest in pressing forward.

Chances were few and far between for the European champions, with a saved Sergio Ramos header from a corner about the best they could muster in a tepid opening 20 minutes.

Spain only seemed to find space once outside the penalty area, though David Silva almost took advantage of that development with a stinging drive that cannoned off the inside of the post, with Giorgi Loria completely beaten.

It was difficult to tell whether Georgia’s sheer numbers at the back proved effective in throwing Spain off their game, or if the visitors’ lethargy was simply down to a lack of urgency in the attacking third.

The first period seemed destined to finish scoreless, though a late flourish from Del Bosque’s men nearly put paid to such inevitability in the dying minutes of the half.

Xavi was at the heart of things, first taking aim from 25 yards out and forcing Loria to tip over at full stretch, before playing in Soldado on goal, with Loria again alert to make the save.

Georgia nearly stunned the European champions early in the second half, who failed to properly defend a rare break forward, which saw Aleksander Amisulashvili strike the base of the post from inside the box.

It was an aberration, no doubt, but it did not lessen the defensive diligence of the hosts in the slightest, as the pattern from the first half repeated itself.

Spain remained camped around the penalty area, but laboured to find an opening, as they were faced by wave after wave of white shirts determined to hold the score.

However, the home side were handed a blow in the 73rd minute when Loria was forced off after colliding with his own player, with reserve keeper Roin Kvaskhvadze coming on in his place.

And their hearts were broken completely in two with four minutes remaining, after lax defending on a cross allowed Soldado enough time to slice home from inside the area.

Georgia attempted to pick themselves up, and even threatened to score with one of the last kicks of the game, but Ramos made a desperate last-ditch block as Spain held on for the win.



Georgia

-
Giorgi Loria
Goalkeeper
73′
4.00
15
3.50
-
3.00
37
Guram Kashia
Defender
2.00
-
Ucha Lobjanidze
Defender
3.00
-
1.50
30
David Targamadze
Midfielder
64′
3.00
6
Jaba Kankava
Midfielder
3.00
-
Murtaz Daushvili
Midfielder
3.00
15
3.50
9
1.50

Spain

3.00
1
Iker Casillas
Goalkeeper
2.00
17
Arbeloa
Defender
80′
2.50
18
Jordi Alba
Defender
2.50
3
Piqué
Defender
3.00
4
2.50
16
Busquets
Midfielder
57′
3.50
21
David Silva
Midfielder
64′
3.50
8
3.50
14
Xabi Alonso
Midfielder
3.00
6
Xavi
Midfielder
4.50
9

Substitutes

-
 - 
-
3.00
-
 - 
5
 - 
-
 - 
-
 - 
-
 - 
27
Zhano Ananidze
Midfielder
 - 
-
3.50
-
 - 
-
S. Guruli
Midfielder
 - 
17
3.00

Substitutes

 - 
25
Pepe Reina
Goalkeeper
 - 
1
 - 
33
 - 
20
Juanfran
Midfielder
 - 
17
Monreal
Defender
 - 
7
Beñat
Midfielder
3.00
19
Santi Cazorla
Midfielder
64′
4.00
4
Cesc Fàbregas
Midfielder
80′ 86′
 - 
15
 - 
9
 - 
9
3.00
7
Pedro
Striker
57′

Coach/Manager

-
 - 

Coach/Manager

 
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
  • Penalty Save
  • Penalty Shootout Goal
  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
  • Fans' Man of the Match
  • Fans' Flop of the Match
Results
Group A Matchday 1
Times In BST
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Robin van Persie Robin van Persie
Striker
Manchester United
11 2
Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko
Striker
Manchester City
10 0
Mesut Özil Mesut Özil
Midfielder
Arsenal
8 3
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Striker
Paris St. Germain (PSG)
8 1
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Striker
Real Madrid
8 0