Villa overtakes Raul as Spain down Czechs 2-1
Granada: World Champions Spain survived a scare against the Czech Republic as a David Villa double saw them come from behind to win 2-1 and maintain their 100 per cent record in qualifying for Euro 2012.
Villa`s predatory qualities rescued not only rescued Spain, they saw him become his country`s all-time top marksman.
The Barcelona man fired home twice in five minutes after Jaroslav Plasil had broken the deadlock to give the visitors a shock lead.
Spain roared back and Villa claimed his 45th and 46th goals for La Furia Roja in quick succession to surpass Raul in the goalscoring charts.
Raul netted his 44 goals in 102 matches but Villa has outdone him in just 72 appearances.
With this win, Spain, the reigning European as well as world champions, have now been victorious in their last ten official matches since they lost the opening game of last summer`s World Cup in South Africa to Switzerland.
The Czech Republic remain on six points but looked as though they could have produced an upset with Plasil giving them a lead which they kept well into the second half.
The surprise in the Spain line-up was that Jesus Navas was preferred in attack to Fernando Torres, who has been struggling for form with Chelsea. At the back Sergio Ramos partnered Gerard Pique with Carles Puyol out injured.
In midfield Xavi Hernandez won his 100th cap for Spain and joined a select group with the only others being Andoni Zubizarreta, Iker Casillas and Raul Gonzalez.
As expected, Spain attacked from the start and gave every suggestion that this would be a comfortable victory as Andres Iniesta had a shot well saved by keeper Petr Cech and then Joan Capdevila headed just wide.
The Czech Republic were defending very deep but gradually found their composure while for all Spain`s possession in the middle of the pitch they were not making inroads.
Iniesta was the most dangerous player for the Roja but he also was unable to find a way through.
Villa had a flash shot blocked by Cech before the Czech Republic stunned Spain with Plasil driving a left-foot shot into the corner from distance.
With Milan Baros an isolated figure, the Czech`s had shown little attacking intention but had taken the lead with their first shot of the game.
Coach Vicente del Bosque gambled by bringing on Torres and Santi Cazorla as Spain went for all out attack after the break.
The Czech defence was stretched and holes began to appear. Villa went close and then finally got the equaliser after a through-ball from the impressive Iniesta.
Czech resistance was broken and minutes later Villa put Spain ahead from the penalty spot after a rash challenge from Jan Rezek on Iniesta.
"It didn`t all go to plan but we kept on plugging away and finally things turned around for us," observed Villa.