MADRID, March 24 (Euro 2008 Qualifying) - Spain gave their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign a major boost on Saturday night with a crucial victory against 10-man Denmark at the Bernabeu.
Valencia duo Fernando Morientes, with his 27th international strike, and David
Villa netted first-half goals as Spain moved onto six points with only their
second win in four Group F matches.
Denmark, who were unbeaten in their three qualifiers, pulled a goal back just
after half-time through Michael Gravgaard but they could not add to that as a
nervy Spain held on for a vital three points.
The Danes enjoyed the better of the opening excahanges, with Dennis Rommedahl
and Daniel Agger both trying their luck early on, before two clumsy challenges
from Niclas Jensen saw the momentum swing Spain's way.
Jensen had only just been booked three minutes earlier when he scythed down
Villa to earn his second yellow card, and an early bath.
That came in just the 20th minute, and Spain made sure the numerical advantage
did not go to waste thanks to goals from Morientes and Villa.
Morientes opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after cleverly turning inside
Agger and slotting past Thomas Sorensen, before Villa made it 2-0 on the stroke
of half-time with another clinical finish.
The players left the pitch at the interval to a carnival atmosphere at a
buoyant Bernabeu, with the home fans delighted with their side's first-half
display in this vital encounter.
However, it was the turn of the visiting supporters to celebrate at the start
of the second period when Denmark pulled a goal back through Gravgaard just four
minutes after the re-start.
Daniel Jensen rattled the post with a 25-yard strike before, in the same
attack, Gravgaard headed home a long throw-in into the box.
That was just the setback Spain would have been desperate to avoid having
ended the opening 45 minutes in relative comfort.
Denmark pushed men forward in search of the equaliser after that, but despite
peppering the Spain penalty area with crosses late on, Luis Aragones' men were
able to claim the spoils.