STUTTGART, Germany - The substitutes saved the day for Spain, carrying it into the next round of the World Cup.
Trailing Tunisia by a goal at halftime, coach Luis Aragones brought in Spain's all-time leading scorer, Raul Gonzalez, and Cesc Fabregas. And it paid off big time in a 3-1 win Monday night.
Raul equalized when Tunisia goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel couldn't hold Fabregas' shot, and the Arsenal youngster set up Fernando Torres for Spain's second goal five minutes later. Torres finished it off on a penalty kick in the last minute for the Red Fury.
"The way Cesc and Raul interpreted the football we had to deliver was extraordinary. That's why our second half was better than the first," Aragones said after Spain's advancement to the second round.
"We had a lot of opportunities, but we did become a bit nervous after their goal."
Spain, undefeated in 24 games under Aragones, is emerging as a serious candidate for the World Cup title after two consecutive wins and a goal difference of 7-1.
UKRAINE 4, SAUDI ARABIA 0
In Hamburg, Germany, after a rude awakening in its debut against Spain last week, Ukraine regained a measure of pride by delivering a similar lesson to Saudi Arabia for its first World Cup victory.
The Ukrainians gave up a goal in the 13th minute against Spain, but they came back to score within four minutes against the Saudis.
Their prize striker Andriy Shevchenko looked weak against the Spaniards' slick defense, this time he both assisted on one score and added his first World Cup goal.
Ukraine surrendered meekly to the Spaniards, but it won by the same score against the Saudis in Group H.
Defender Andriy Rusol opened the scoring.
The goal, Ukraine's first of the tournament, prompted an emotional coach Oleh Blokhin to scream in approval and violently whip the grass with his towel.
"It's like the tale of Cinderella," Blokhin said. "The pumpkin turned into a beautiful coach and the rats into magnificent horses. That's what happened to us today and we were able to turn things around."
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us