villa steers spain victory

THERE was much hype on the streets of Bloemfontein long before the Fifa Confederations Cup match between Spain and Iraq at Free State Stadium yesterday.

THERE was much hype on the streets of Bloemfontein long before the Fifa Confederations Cup match between Spain and Iraq at Free State Stadium yesterday.

Most of the soccer fans here, draped in the green and white colours of Bloemfontein Celtic that you could have thought that Phunya SeleSele would be playing.

But sadly many of those who chanted on the streets and outside the stadium could not gain entry into the stadium because they did not have tickets, and so failing to witness the European champions pip their Asian counterparts 1-0.

This left just over 17000 seats empty at this 48000-seat venue.

The situation was the same here when Brazil played against Egypt on Monday.

Fifa boss Sepp Blatter is likely to continue to voice his concern about poor turnout at matches.

But spectators who turned out for the tie yesterday should be applauded for making the mood electrifying with their songs, dance and vuvuzelas.

But the majority of Celtic's loyalists were frustrated by the seating arrangements as spectators are seated according to the seat numbers that reflect on their tickets.

All eyes were on Fernando Torres' to see if he wiould repeat his virtuoso performance in the tournament that saw him score a hat-trick within 17 minutes against New Zealand on Monday. But the Liverpool attacker fired blanks.

Their goal was struck by David Villa, who rose unchallenged to head home a Joan Capdevila pass from the left flank. It was Villa's second goal of the tournament after scoring against New Zealand on Monday.

Iraq, mentored by five-time World Cup coach Bora Milutinovic, were no threat to Spain as they employed an ultra-defensive approach.

Their tactic nevertheless worked for them as their five defenders managed to deny Spain, who had star player Cesc Fabregas on the bench, to win with an avalanche of goals.

Spain's win yesterday saw them equal Brazil and France's record of 14 straight wins, the longest winning run by a national team. They are also one match short of matching Brazil's 35 unbeaten run.

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