Sizzling Spain decimate Ukraine 4-0

The side registered the biggest margin so far at this year's WC in Germany. Schedule | Teams | Results | Photos | Games

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 21:52 IST

Spain overpowered Ukraine 4-0 Wednesday in Group H of the World Cup - the biggest margin of victory so far at this year's tournament.

David Villa scored twice and Fernando Torres added the fourth after a series of passes.

As famous for its international flops as the finesse and flair of its game, Spain appears on the right track this time. It is on a 23-match unbeaten streak, all under coach Luis Aragones - a nice change for the nation whose checkered international soccer history has been one of perpetual disappointment.

"If we show what we can do I know we can be among the top teams at this tournament," Aragones said. "At first I thought it was going to be more complicated but the second goal made Ukraine more crestfallen and the rest was easier."

While the Spaniards are making their eighth consecutive World Cup appearance, they have failed to reach the semifinals since their posting their best result, a fourth-place finish in 1950. "It was a spectacular start," Villa said. "Two goals and the three points with a good game."

Spain dominated from the start to the final whistle, producing 19 shots compared to Ukraine's five.

Xabi Alonso scored in the 13th minute with a header past Oleksandr Shovkovskyi off a corner kick by Xavi Hernandez. Villa made it 2-0 four minutes later with a free kick that deflected off the Ukrainian wall after a late challenge by Andriy Rusol on Torres that drew a yellow card for Rusol. Villa scored again in the 47th from the penalty spot after Torres was brought down by Vladyslav Vashchyuk, who was ejected for pulling his opponent's shorts and tripping him.

Down to 10 men, Ukraine had no chance of a comeback, and Torres connected with a powerful right-footer in the 81st minute. Carles Puyol intercepted a pass at midfield, beat a defender with a spin and dragback, then passed to Torres. He sent the ball to Raul Gonzalez, who put it back to Puyol on the edge of the area.

Puyol headed it into the path of Torres, who had continued running and hit the ball to the goalkeeper's right side. "It's painful to lose 4-0," Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin said. "I've never lost 4-0. The players did not respect the advice of their coaches.

"On some occasions we were playing like the worst team in Europe."

Andriy Shevchenko, who was expected to shine on world soccer's biggest stage, had little effect on the match. Blokhin had hesitated to start the striker, who was returning from a nagging knee injury. Spain's last World Cup defeat came in its opening match at the 1998 tournament.

Ukraine is making its first appearance at the World Cup, along with Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago and Togo, but is the only European country making its debut.

The team was the first European country to qualify for the event and was unbeaten in five friendly matches this year. "I believe Tunisia is indeed a great team. I've seen them play and with Spain they are the top team in our group," Aragones said. "But we also need to watch out because Saudi Arabia could always surprise us."

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 01:36 IST