World and European champions Spain opened their Confederations Cup campaign with a well deserved victory over Uruguay in Recife on Sunday.
An 88th minute consolation goal from Liverpool forward Luis Suarez wasn’t sufficient for the Copa America champions as Pedro and Roberto Soladado had given coach Vicente del Bosque’s team full control in the first half of the match.
For large period of the game, the South Americans played inferior to a star-studded Spanish side which included Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Iker Casillas. They were reduced to chasing shadows and when they did have the ball they were swiftly closed down by their ruthless opponents.
Uruguay included eight of the side that finished the last World Cup in fourth place yet waited until two minutes from full time, when Suarez beat Casillas with a sublime curling free-kick to record their first goal.
“It could have been catastrophic for us, but we improved and our professional image was rescued,” Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez said.
Spain enjoyed 92% of the possession in the first 9 minutes of the game and the woodwork was all left to be beaten, when Fabregas’ shot failed to get inside the net in the 10th minute before Barcelona teammate Iniesta was later denied by the goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
The goal came in the 20th minute, when Pedro’s shot took a wicked deflection off Lugano before finding the net.
Edinson Cavani did force Iker Casillas into a rare save with a header from a well worked free-kick in the 30th minute, but Uruguay fell further behind after a clever pass by Fabregas allowed Soldado to produce a crisp finish from inside the area.
“We played an excellent first half and I think we also played very well in the second period, but we suffered a bit at the end,” Del Bosque said.
“They are three magnificent points which put us in a very good position to get through to the semi-finals.”