Seville: Spain made it three wins out of three in their Euro 2012 warm-up matches with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over China in Seville on Sunday evening.
Jose Antonio Camacho’s Chinese side battled valiantly for the majority of the match, with goalkeeper Zeng Cheng pulling off a number of fantastic saves. However, the introduction of Andres Iniesta at half-time changed the match, and the Barcelona midfielder was the catalyst for the only goal of the match with a superb dribble that led to David Silva’s strike six minutes from the end.
The Iberians had the better of the early exchanges, and almost took the lead in the first 10 minutes through a golden opportunity for Alvaro Negredo. Silva picked up the ball just to the left of the China box and slipped a pass into the centre for the Sevilla man, but his first-time shot on goal was well blocked by China goalkeeper Cheng.
Spain were completely dominant of the possession in the first period, with China resorting to counterattacking to try and create some opportunities. However, Camacho’s men squandered the best chance to score in the first 45 minutes when Zheng Zhi got on the end of a Yang Yu cross at the back post to strike at goal, only for Iker Casillas to make a terrific save with his legs.
Negredo posed the biggest threat to the Asian side in the first half, and came close to scoring again on the half-hour mark when he fizzed a shot at the China goal, only for the ball to creep by the right-hand post.
China defended admirably before the break, with a wall of red shirts proving to be a formidable obstacle for the Spain players, who were unable to find a way through.
Spain came out of the traps quickly after half-time, and substitute Iniesta almost got on the scoresheet just moments after his introduction when he found space inside the area to fire a shot at goal, only for Cheng to dramatically tip the ball over the bar. The China goalkeeper trumped this save one minute later when he somehow got on the end of a near-post shot from Silva to turn the ball out for a corner.
Spain continued to probe for the opening goal of the match, and came incredibly close to finding the breakthrough in a two-minute window in the second half, in which they hit the woodwork twice. First was Raul Albiol who missed a sitter when he headed on to the crossbar from just a couple of yards out. It was just a few minutes later when Iniesta twisted and turned in the box before crashing a strike on to the bar.
China somehow continued to hold out as the match went on, as Spain squandered too many good chances in front of goal. Fernando Torres came within inches of giving his side the lead in the 66th minute when he peeled off to the back post and got on the end of a fantastic cross from Jordi Alba, only to volley just over the bar. The Chelsea striker passed up a gift of a chance a couple of minutes later when he found himself through on goal and attempted to nick a shot past Cheng, but the China goalkeeper saved well.
However, heartbreak for China did eventually come when Iniesta picked up the ball on the left-hand side before displaying some incredible dribbling ability to drive into the area and skip past a few challenges before squaring the ball to Silva, who passed home into an empty net.
Spain now go on to the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine as defending champions, with their opening match coming against Italy on Sunday 10th June.