Soldado’s late goal saves Spain

Soldado’s late goal saves Spain

TBILISI - Agence France-Presse
Soldado’s late goal saves Spain

AP photo

Reigning World and European champions Spain needed an 86th-minute strike from Roberto Soldado to beat Georgia 1-0 in the two teams’ opening Group I qualifier for the 2014 World Cup on Sept. 11.

It looked set to be a frustrating start to La Roja’s bid to make it to the finals in Brazil, as a wall of Georgian defenders repelled wave after wave of attack and the hosts even initially overcame the loss of goalkeeper Giorgi Loria to injury in the second half. But then the visitors played a corner short to substitute Cesc Fabregas, whose low cross was swept home by Soldado.

It was the perfect riposte from the Valencia striker, who was not included in Vicente del Bosque’s squad for the Euro 2012 campaign.

The win maintains Spain’s unbeaten run in competitive matches stretching back to its 1-0 loss to Switzerland in its opening game at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“I would like to congratulate Georgia for their extraordinary performance,” said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque. “They played with great enthusiasm and made it very difficult for us.”