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  • August 15, 2012
  • • 4:30 PM
  • • Estadio Juán Rámon Loubriel, Bayamón
  • Referee: J. Santos
  • • Attendance: 15000

Puerto Rico 1-2 Spain: Cazorla and Fabregas strikes save La Roja's blushes

Puerto Rico 1-2 Spain: Cazorla and Fabregas strikes save La Roja's blushes

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Despite dominating the match, the European champions were regularly foiled by the opposition keeper as they failed to meet the pre-game expectations of a prolific win

Spain may have picked up a 2-1 win over Puerto Rico, but will be disappointed not to have won by a higher margin at the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel.

The hosts made it difficult for Vicente Del Bosque's men with their compact defending but goals from Santiago Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas ensured La Roja went into halftime with a comfortable lead. However, it failed to enhance upon that advantage and El Huracan Azul pulled a goal back through Marc Cintron to earn a hugely respectable result.

Spain made its dominance clear from the off as it controlled the ball and dictated the play from the whistle. After a couple of limp efforts, Gerard Pique almost found the net in the 12th minute but his header from Cazorla's corner crashed against the post.

Puerto Rico was making things harder for itself by being sloppy in possession and but it was New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette who kept them level. Midway through the first half he saved a header from Fernando Torres that looked destined for the corner and then he parried a powerful Cazorla effort away from the danger area.

The game was heavily congested in the final third with El Huracan Azul consistently getting all but one man behind the ball, limiting the space in which Spain could move possession around and penetrate the defense.

La Roja continued to be frustrated in its attempts to break the deadlock but finally broke down the tremendously disciplined Puerto Rico side with two goals in the closing stages of the first half.

In the 42nd minute Cazorla opened the scoring with a driven shot from 25 yards that flew past an unsighted Gaudette and moments later it was two. Fabregas added a sublime finish to Jesus Navas' cross with a first-time, cross-goal volley that the keeper had no chance of reaching.

Spain maintained the momentum early in the second half and within a matter of minutes it pressured the opposing goal. However, both Cazorla and Llorente were thwarted by the impressive Gaudette.

Puerto Rico, which is 137 places lower in the FIFA Rankings than the World and European champions, halved the deficit in the 65th minute. A long ball up field was flicked into the path of Cintron by Hector Ramos and despite only being on the pitch for three minutes, he slotted a composed finish into the bottom corner.

In response, Del Bosque's men were guilty of trying to walk the ball in the back of the net and it was not until three minutes from time, when Torres forced another save from Gaudette with a curling effort, that they came close to adding some shine to the result.

Nevertheless, they picked up the win but La Roja will be hoping for a far improved performance when it begins World Cup qualifying against Georgia next month.

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