Fringe players excel for Spain in win over South Korea

Andy West 05:08 02/06/2016
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Spain's players celebrate Alvaro Morata's goal.

They will have to confront much better teams than this in the next few weeks, but Spain delivered just what boss Vicente Del Bosque ordered to enjoy a goal glut against South Korea in Salzburg on Wednesday.

As a warm-up for their European Championship challenge, in some ways this friendly was only of limited use for Spain due to the weakness of the opposition, which allowed their six goals to come easily.

But there was a crispness, intensity and, above all, consistent attacking penetration about the Spanish play which bodes well for their campaign in France.

Despite missing the four squad members who competed in Saturday’s Champions League Final, Del Bosque’s team completely outclassed the South Koreans, with the boss given food for thought by several impressive individual displays.

Chief among those was Celta Vigo forward Nolito, who scored twice for the second consecutive game to further strengthen his increasingly convincing quest for a starting place in the strongest XI.

Another scorer of a brace, Alvaro Morata, did more than enough to solidify his position as first choice centre forward when Spain’s serious business gets underway with their group opener against the Czech Republic on 13 June.

And at the other end of the field, Iker Casillas delivered a solid performance between the posts to suggest he will be capable of resisting the challenge of David De Gea to keep hold of the goalkeeper’s jersey.

It never looked as though Spain would have to wait too long for the opening goal, with Andres Iniesta, Nolito and Hector Bellerin all going close in the early stages. And the deadlock was finally broken after half an hour when Morata was fouled and David Silva whipped a brilliant free-kick into the top right corner.

Within seconds it was two, as hapless South Korean goalkeeper Kim Ji Hyeon horrendously failed to gather a routine backheader, allowing Morata to steal in and find Cesc Fabregas for a simple finish into the open net.

Nolito had been Spain’s brightest player during the opening half and he made it three before the interval by receiving a smart through ball from Cesar Azpilicueta and turning smartly to convert through Kim’s legs.

Del Bosque made several substitutions at half-time, and one of the new introductions soon teed up the fourth goal as Thiago Alcantara delivered a well-placed inswinging corner for Morata to rise high and head home.

And the flood of goals continued as Nolito added his second, receiving a cutback from Bellerin to sweep home, aided by more poor defending.

Spain skipper Casillas was rarely called into action, but as Spain’s tempo understandably dropped he preserved his clean sheet with a brilliant diving save from Nam Tae Hee’s curling strike, and then also did well to deny Suk Hyun Jun.

To their credit, South Korea kept on pushing and grabbed a consolation when Ju Se Jong’s fierce low shot deflected off Bruno Soriano to leave substitute keeper Sergio Rico with no chance.

But Morata had the final word as he ran onto a throughball from substitute Aritz Aduriz and rounded the inefficient Kim to net impressively from a narrow angle, completing a victory which will boost Spain’s confidence.

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