Soldado back with a bang
Roberto Soldado returned to international football with a bang by coming off the bench to bag a hat-trick as Spain thumped ten-man Venezuela.
Last Updated: 29/02/12 11:18pm
Roberto Soldado returned to international football with a bang by coming off the bench to bag a hat-trick as Spain thumped five past ten-man Venezuela in Malaga without reply.
Andres Iniesta opened the scoring with a calm finish from Cesc Fabregas' pass before the former Arsenal man also set-up David Silva to stroke home the second just before half-time.
Vicente del Bosque introduced Soldado at the interval and he made the most of his long-awaited opportunity by scoring twice in the three minutes after the break.
The Valencia striker was briefly denied his hat-trick as his penalty was saved by Dani Hernandez, after Fernando Amorebieta was sent off. Soldado did eventually get his third of the evening, benefiting from great wing-play by Jordi Alba seven minutes from time.
The world champions friendly results away from home have been less than stellar in the past year, but they never looked in any danger here as Venezuela defended in numbers for the entire 90 minutes in a failed attempt to keep the score down.
Indeed the only frustration for the hosts was how long it took them to break the South Americans down. Sergio Ramos struck the bar inside five minutes before Dani was fortunate to deflect Silva's effort just over.
However it was just a matter of time before the Venezuelan goal was breached and the opener arrived on 37 minutes as a clever pass from Fabregas found Iniesta with time on the edge of the area to pick his spot and side-foot home.
Four minutes later it was two as this time Silva and Fabregas exchanged passes just inside the area and the Manchester City midfielder expertly bent the ball into the bottom corner.
Soldado replaced Fernando Llorente at the break and made an instant impact as he applied the finishing touch to a wonderful move involving Xabi Alonso, Silva and Santi Cazorla.
And Soldado was in the right place again moments later as Alvaro Arbeloa's cross found the Valencia striker with space to pass the ball into the net from six yards.
The home side were now rampant and Soldado should have had his hat-trick even earlier as he latched onto a wonderful through ball from Xavi, but having skipped round Dani he was pulled down by Amorebieta.
The Athletic Bilbao defender was shown a straight red card but Dani made a comfortable save from Soldado's weak spot-kick.
However, the 26-year-old only had to wait another 18 minutes for his third and Spain's fifth as wonderful play down the left from Alba left him with the simplest of tasks to round off a wonderful return to international football after a five-year absence.