Spain downs Uruguay 3-1 in friendly
DOHA, Qatar (AP) -A second-half brace from Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez helped world and European champion Spain beat Uruguay 3-1 in a friendly on Wednesday.
Fielding a lineup that featured nine Barcelona players, Spain had the bulk of the early possession and the best chances in the match in Doha. It took the lead in the 16th minute when a long strike from Cesc Fabregas went through the hands of Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera.
Uruguay drew level in the 32nd minute when Cristian Rodriguez got behind two defenders and took a pass from Martin Caceres.
But in the second half, it was all Spain. Even without injured midfielders Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez, Spain controlled play and was helped by several defensive lapses from the Copa America champions.
The worst one came in the 51st when Uruguay gave the ball away outside its penalty area. Substitute Gerard Pique pounced on the ball and fed a rushing Pedro who scored from close range.
Spain then put the match away 24 minutes later on a counterattack, with substitute David Villa feeding Fabregas just inside the area and the Barcelona midfielder crossing to an unmarked Pedro who put the ball past Muslera.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said it was a good test against a team it might face in the 2014 World Cup should both teams qualify.
"Uruguay defended well and was dangerous in counterattacks but we played a good game,'' Del Bosque said. "Pedro made the difference for us in the second half.''
Del Bosque said he was happy to see that the addition of three new players - Cesar Azpilicueta, Mario Suarez and Isco - did nothing to change the team's fluid style of play.
"We played in the way we are used to playing,'' Del Bosque said. "We are a stable team. Even as we add new players and this is a friendly match, we still play the same way. We know how important the national team is and the players show it every game.''
Uruguay tried to hit back on counterattacks in the second half and came close to scoring in the 57th when a shot from Edinson Cavani sailed just wide left. Napoli forward Cavani and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez were nullified the rest of the way, losing possession several times in the area to Sergio Ramos and Pique.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said the result was to be expected when playing the world's best team.
"I think in the first half we knew how to stop them at times and created complication. But with teams like this, you can't make mistakes,'' Tabarez said. "That is pretty much what decided the game. Even when we tried, we couldn't score in parts of the first half and second half.''
Uruguay has struggled to live up to expectations after it reached the 2010 World Cup semifinals and sits fifth in the South American World Cup qualifying group after losing to Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia. But Tabarez said the team still has time, noting he has some of the world's top strikers on his team.
"September and October were bad to us. We played badly, conceded too many goals and got surprised,'' Tabarez said. "We have to start winning the qualifiers because we haven't been doing well. The reality is that in the last qualifiers we were even worse. We know we can do better. We take this as normal and we have to go through this.''
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