The Athletic Bilbao attacker netted two precise headers as La Furia Roja take top spot in Group I...Fernando Llorente double fired Spain to a 3-1 victory over Lithuania in Salamanca, but they were made to work hard for the three points.
The Athletic Bilbao striker scored within minutes of the second half, and put the World Champions ahead again with a neat header after Darvydas Sernas drove past Iker Casillas to fire a shock equaliser for the visitors.
David Silva had the last word with a superb header that arrowed into the net, and kept Vicente del Bosque's side well on course for Euro 2012 qualification.
The first half saw Spain struggle against a well-organised, regimented Lithuania side who restricted Del Bosque’s side to patient passing in and around the area.
The hosts had their chances, though. Sergio Ramos crashed a header against the post, with goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas completely stranded.
On the stroke of half-time came an astonishing miss from the normally flawless David Villa. Llorente’s header was well parried, but with the Barcelona striker having the goal at his mercy literally a yard from the line, he contrived to strike the post, with the effort rebounding to safety. It was an incredible error, and Lithuania somehow survived to the interval unscathed.
However, the public of Salamanca did not have to wait long for their heroes to finally find the net. Sergio Ramos was at his usual marauding best on the right, crossing to find the head of Llorente, who bulleted past the stranded Karcemarskas to ease the nerves and seemingly break the spirit of the away side.
Lithuania weren’t willing to settle for a glorious defeat though, and produced a shock equaliser ten minutes later. Darvydas Sernas burst from midfield, finding space in between Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol before drilling into the corner past the despairing dive of Casillas.
Normal service was resumed just 120 seconds later. This time Santi Cazorla provided a deep cross, and the dominant Llorente rose highest again to power his header into the net, justifying Del Bosque’s decision to start him initially.
La Furia Roja kept their best until last. Ramos, a constant threat on the right, swung in a cross that just made it into the area, but David Silva’s header was precise, powerful, and found the top corner wonderfully, to end the contest.
Lithuania can be pleased with their efforts despite their defeat, while Spain can look forward to a trip to Glasgow to face Scotland on Tuesday evening.
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