Soldado shines in Venezuela rout
Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas reprised their World Cup-winning double act and Roberto Soldado netted a hat-trick as a slick-looking Spain beat 10-man Venezuela 5-0 in a friendly in Malaga on Wednesday.
Fabregas sent Iniesta clear to score the dramatic added-time goal that beat Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final and it was his low centre that his Barcelona teammate turned into the corner of the net to put Spain ahead in the 37th minute.
The world and European champions doubled their lead three minutes later when David Silva sped into the area from the right, exchanged a quick pass with Fabregas and drilled the ball into the far corner.
Soldado, replacing struggling Chelsea striker Fernando Torres in the squad, opened his account for the national side five minutes after coming on at halftime when he flicked a Santi Cazorla pass into the net and he grabbed his second three minutes later when he turned in Alvaro Arbeloa's low cross.
Venezuela defender Fernando Amorebieta, who plays for La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, hauled Soldado down in the penalty area as he bore down on goal midway through the second half and was shown a straight red card but Soldado's tame penalty was saved by Daniel Hernandez.
He made amends six minutes from time when he lifted a Jordi Alba cross high into the net to complete his hat-trick and make a strong claim for a place in Spain's Euro 2012 squad.
The match at Malaga's Rosaleda stadium was a last chance for coach Vicente del Bosque to experiment before he names his roster for the European Championship and he started with Fernando Llorente as a lone striker in the absence of Torres and the injured David Villa.
Llorente sent a couple of tame headers goalwards in the first half but was otherwise quiet and was comprehensively upstaged by Soldado, who replaced him at the break.
Venezuela barely threatened Spain's goal, their best chance coming as early as the third minute when Jose Salomon Rondon's fierce strike was beaten away by Iker Casillas.
The home side's mesmerising one-touch passing and solid defence easily kept the South Americans at bay as Spain, playing in a new and unfamiliar sky-blue strip, celebrated their 600th match with a thumping victory.