Second-string Spain beat Saudis 1-0
Gutierrez headed in Spain's only goal from a free-kick by Reyes in 36th min.Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | Gamesindia Updated: Jun 23, 2006 22:25 IST
Spain fielded a team of reserves on Friday and still beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 to top Group H at the World Cup.
Coach Luis Aragones told his fringe players to try and earn a spot on the team for the second round and several impressed. Central defender Juanito Gutierrez headed in Spain's goal from a free-kick by Jose Antonio Reyes in the 36th minute.
Spain won the with a maximum nine points and extended its unbeaten streak under Aragones to 25 matches. It will play its second round game in Hanover on Tuesday against the runner-up from Group G, which contains 1998 champion France and 2002 semifinalist South Korea.
Saudi Arabia exited its fourth consecutive World Cup with only one point from its opening draw with Tunisia.
With Spain already through to the knockout stage after wins against Ukraine and Tunisia, Aragones decided to rest his regular starters against the Saudis and give his backup players a chance. Seven had never played a World Cup match before.
Spain got its goal when Reyes sent a curling free kick from the left and Juanito, outsmarting his marker, connected with a perfectly timed header past goalkeeper Mabrouk Zayed. It was the Real Betis defender's second goal for Spain.
Zayed stopped Spain from taking a bigger lead before halftime, saving a barrage of shots from Reyes, David Albelda, and Joaquin Sanchez.
Spain's all-time leading scorer Raul Gonzalez had a fairly uneventful first half and was replaced by Valencia striker David Villa after the break.
The "Red Fury" nearly found their second goal when Villa, inside the penalty box, dropped the ball back to fullback Antonio Lopez, who angled a dangerous shot to the far post. Zayed tipped the ball to corner.
But Saudi Arabia came out with more ambition in the second half and broke Spain's dominance.
Spanish keeper Santiago Canizares, filling in for Iker Casillas, was tested for the first time 12 minutes into the second half when he saved Hussein Abdul-Ghani's outside shot.
Striker Saad al-Harthi had Saudi Arabia's best chance to equalize when he was set up in the penalty box in the 89th by Mohammed Noor, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
Spain's top scorer in the tournament, Fernando Torres came on with 25 minutes to go, and managed a few dangerous runs but couldn't get past Zayed.