Improved Portugal humble world champions Spain 4-0

Lisbon: Helder Postiga scored twice as a vastly improved Portugal side crushed world and European champions Spain 4-0 on Wednesday in a friendly international.

Portugal took a deserved lead just before halftime when Cristiano Ronaldo beat Sergio Busquets on the left and sent a powerful drive towards Iker Casillas which the Spain keeper could only block. The ball fell for Carlos Martins to fire in from near the spot.

The hosts added their second five minutes after the break when Joao Moutinho and Nani combined to feed striker Postiga, whose goalbound backheel was helped in by Sergio Ramos`s desperate clearance.

Postiga netted again with a simple strike in the 68th minute and Hugo Almeida completed the rout deep into second-half injury time after Pepe led a counterattack.

Portugal were strong from the start and did not show any of the caution that marked their 1-0 defeat in the second round of the World Cup to the same opponents.

Nani had the first chance but his drive from outside the box flew wide of the right post. The winger also put Postiga through on 20 minutes only for his chip to be blocked by Casillas.

The game, held to promote the countries` joint bid to host the 2018 World Cup, was at times an intense affair, with Busquets and Ronaldo picking up yellow cards for challenges on each other.

Portugal midfielders Raul Meireiles and Moutinho worked tirelessly, preventing Xavi and Iniesta from deploying their trademark "tiki-taka" one-touch style, with Spain`s only real chance in the first half a David Silva header that went wide on 31 minutes.

Five minutes later Ronaldo`s trickery left Gerard Pique sitting on the turf and the forward`s sumptuous lob was flying in over Casillas but Nani, who was offside, touched it in and the goal was disallowed.

Ronaldo was one the many players replaced at halftime, but Portugal continued to drive forward.

The Spaniards failed to lift their game and their rare chances in the second half were shots from Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas and header by Fernando Llorente, all of which went wide.

Bureau Report