• FT

    Spain

    1

    Iraq

    0

  • FT

    South Africa

    2

    New Zealand

    0

FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Breeze, Matthew

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Spain

  • David Villa 54'

1 - 0

FT

Spain 1-0 Iraq

Reuters - European champions Spain qualified for the Confederations Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 win over a defensive Iraq side on Wednesday.

The victory was a world record-equalling 14th consecutive international win and stretched their unbeaten run to 34 matches - one short of the world record of 35 held by Brazil.

• Iraq coach "delighted" with defeat

Forward David Villa's powerful 55th minute header made him

Spain's second highest scorer of all time with 30 goals - 14

behind Raul's record of 44.

It was his fifth international goal in a week following a

hat-trick against Azerbaijan last Tuesday and another strike

against New Zealand on Sunday.

Spain had to work hard against the ultra-defensive Asian

champions who, despite drawing their opening match 0-0 against

South Africa and losing this one without scoring a goal are

still in with a chance of reaching the last four.

Spain, who beat New Zealand 5-0 in their opening game, top

the group with six points followed by South Africa and Iraq on

one and New Zealand with none.

But this match was in stark contrast to the New Zealand rout

and until the unmarked Villa headed in Joan Capdevila's cross 10

minutes after the break it looked like Spain would fail to score

for the first time since a 0-0 draw with Italy in Euro 2008.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque made four changes to his

starting lineup, leaving defenders Carles Puyol and Raul Albiol

on the bench with midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Albert Riera.

Although their replacements Gerard Pique, Carlos Marchena,

Juan Manuel Mata and Santi Cazorla all played well, they found

it hard going against the well-organised but negative Iraqis who

seemed happy to limit the damage to one goal.

Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic, who said on Tuesday he might

field an even more defensive team than he did to gain a draw

against South Africa, was true to his word.

He named a side with six defenders, while the lone striker,

Alaa Abdul Zahra, usually plays as an attacking midfielder.

The defensive tactics stifled Spain's attacking prowess and

killed the game as a spectacle with the favourites continuously

frustrated by the sheer weight of numbers defending.

Iraq only managed one shot on target in the first half when

Zahra fired tamely at goalkeeper Iker Casillas after 10 minutes,

while Spain's best efforts went wide and striker Fernando Torres

was left to feed on half-chance scraps he failed to convert.

Defender Sergio Ramos nearly doubled Spain's lead with a

blistering shot that went just over the bar after 78 minutes.

But in the end they did just enough to join Brazil, France

and Australia as one of only four countries to win 14 successive

matches according to FIFA's official statistics.

  • Iraq coach "delighted" with defeat

    Iraq coach Bora Milutinovich, whose news conferences rattle along like an

    old-time vaudeville show, amazed the media on Wednesday when he

    expressed his delight at his team's defeat to Spain.

    The 64-year-old Serbian-born coach, in charge of his eighth

    national side, proved he has lost none of his entertainment

    value when he said he was happy despite losing the Group A

    Confederations Cup match to the European champions.

    "I am very, very happy with the defeat, I am not only happy

    I am delighted. I was very happy with the way my team played and

    I am very pleased we did not lose by four goals.

    "We played very intelligently, but Spain are Spain, they are

    a great team, but I have to say I am happy with the outcome. We

    are still in the competition.

    "In the first game it is important not to lose, in the

    second game it is important to get the best possible result and

    we did that today. Maybe we can go through to the semi-finals

    with only two points. It is possible."

    Iraq drew their opening match 0-0 with South Africa and,

    despite losing this game, they will go into their last match

    against Oceania champions New Zealand with a chance of

    qualifying for the last four, no matter what the outcome of the

    South Africa-New Zealand match later on Wednesday.

    "My team was very disciplined today, very organised and I

    was very pleased with them," Milutinovic added.

    Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque, like Milutinovic, was also happy with the outcome which took his to the semi-finals after

    beating New Zealand 5-0 in their opening game.

    "Iraq played with a lot of dignity. They played a smart game

    and played to their limits and made it very diffuclt for us

    today. It was never going to be the same game as against New

    Zealand with a big scoreline, but I am very pleased with the way

    we played today," he said.

    "I am happy because we have achieved our first goal of

    reaching the semi-finals and have done that in the first two

    matches. Now I should be able to rest some players for the South

    Africa match and plan for the rest of the tournament."

    Villa's goal - his fifth in just over a week for Spain -

    took his international tally to 30 and he became Spain's second

    highest scorer behind Raul who has 44.

    Asked how he rated Villa among the world's best strikers Del

    Bosque replied: "He could play in any team in the world, but I

    don't know what his transfer value would be. I don't know

    anything about the economy."

  • Scoring Summary

    • Spain
    • Iraq
    David Villa (54')
     

    Match Stats

    • Spain
    • Iraq
    13(5) Shots (on goal) 3(1)
    12 Fouls 10
    6 Corner kicks 1
    3 Offsides 2
    0% Time of Possession 0%
    2 Yellow Cards 1
    0 Red Cards 0
    1 Saves 4

    Teams

    • Spain
    • Iraq
    Substitutes
    Substitutions
    Yellow Cards
    B Abbas (28')