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Spain sparkle, England impress, defeat for France

sports Updated: Sep 04, 2010 09:30 IST
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Spain made an impressive start to their quest for an historic treble in the opening salvoes in Euro 2012 qualifying, which saw wins for England, Holland and Germany but defeat for France.

Spain are seeking to become the first country in history to annex a World Cup and two European titles.

And Vicente del Bosque's men, in their first competitive outing since scaling football's global summit at Soccer City in July, swept aside little Liechtenstein, ranked 141 places below them in FIFA's rankings, 4-0 in Vaduz on Friday.

Liverpool forward Fernando Torres, who failed to score in South Africa, rediscovered his touch with a double, the rout completed by the two Davids, Villa and Silva.

"I feel better with each passing day following the injury and the goals tonight give me a lot of confidence," said Torres.

Holland, defeated 1-0 by Spain in the World Cup final, were also quick out of the blocks on the long road to Ukraine and Poland, Bert van Marwijk's Oranje dishing out a 5-0 beating to minnows San Marino.

Torres's Liverpool team-mate Dirk Kuyt set the Dutch on their way with an early penalty, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's hat-trick and veteran Ruud van Nistelrooy's injury-time strike rounding off their five-star performance.

At Wembley, England, desperately disappointing in South Africa, went some way on the road to redemption with a sparkling 4-0 rout of Bulgaria.

Jermain Defoe's treble and Adam Johnson's first goal for the Three Lions will have helped relieve the mounting pressure on coach Fabio Capello.

"I was concentrating on the match, not the critics," said Capello.

"We played very well. I knew that the players had been training well and that they had a great spirit."

Key to the win was a revitalised Wayne Rooney, who has shaken off the lethargy that had gripped him at the World Cup, conjuring up three assists.

Germany, who so cruelly exposed England at the World Cup, where they finished third, eked out a 1-0 win over Belgium in Brussels.