Spain Stroll Past Hopeless New Zealand

It was as big a mismatch as the scoreline suggests...

Spain pulled off a predictable 5-0 win over hapless New Zealand in front of a sparse crowd in Rustenberg to conclude an underwhelming day of action in the Confederations Cup.

At least the crowd were able to cheer some goals, unlike in the 0-0 showpiece opener between South Africa and Iraq, as Spain racked up a considerable tally, largely thanks to a superb treble from Fernando Torres.

Torres was the star of the show with his early, well-executed hat-trick, but Spain's wide play was also worthy of remark.

New Zealand's dfensive 4-1-3-1-1 was abundantly central in its outlook, meaning that the likes of Joan Capdevila had acres of space in which to plan their crosses. Even though in theory the recipients should have been well marked, it always appeared as though a red shirt could break clear of three white ones at will.

Thus it proved as after just six minutes Spain took the lead. Having held possession from the outset, they capitalised as Cesc Fabregas teed up Fernando Torres for a lovely curling shot into the top corner, completely unmarked.

Seven minutes later there was another. Albert Riera, taking advantage of the acres of space on the left flank, slipped the ball through the box for David Villa, who in turn set up Torres for an easy finish.

And within 18 minutes, there was the hat-trick. Riera cut inside, drawing his marker away before spraying the ball back out to Joan Capdevila, who had time to place his cross into the centre of the area, where Torres rose above no fewer than three white shirts to place a header past Moss.

Cesc Fabregas then got in on the goalscoring act, Riera and Capdevila's double-act once again creating space for the Arsenal man's tap-in.

Jeremy Brockie then came close at the other end with a volley from an unmarked position before being removed in a defensive adjustment in favour of namesake Jeremy Christie.

But otherwise it was one-way traffic, the few fans in Rustenberg watching Spain dominate possession, even though after that fourth goal things began to slow down, La Roja perhaps happy enough with their margin of victory

Still, even the defenders were getting forward, which had a price: New Zealand closed the half with a free-kick that Mulligan took well, forcing a safety-first palm from Casillas.

After the break, any thoughts New Zealand coach Ricky Herbert had about making amends for that defensive display ended in minutes. Andrew Boyens inexplicably fluffed an easy clearance from Torres' cross, meaning that David Villa had one of his easiest career finishes at the far post.

One came Santi Cazorla and Alvaro Arbeloa for Xavi and Sergio Ramos as Vicente Del Bosque began to rest players, and the game once again slowed down.

Indeed, the closing stages had little to recommend them, especially as the excellent Fernando Torres trudged off to be replaced by David Silva, and Shane Smeltz - one of the few decent New Zealanders - did likewise in favour of Chris James.

Spain were clearly apt to conserve their energy in the latter part of the game, with Francesc Fabregas firing over amidst a crowded area fifteen minutes from time.

New Zealand closed the match with a period of possession,  but a lack of technical aptitude saw to it that they couldn't score, and 5-0 it ended.

Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com