Football: Spain edge France in international friendly
Spain edged out France 1-0 in a Euro 2008 warm-up friendly international on Wednesday
MALAGA, Spain, February 6, 2008 - Spain edged out France 1-0 in a Euro
2008 warm-up friendly international here on Wednesday, Joan Capdevila bagging
a late winner in an encounter between two former European champions in the
Villarreal defender Capdevila pounced from close-range with 11 minutes
remaining after Lassana Diarra cleared Andres Iniesta's initial effort off the
line to give Lius Aragones' hosts a useful morale boost as they fine-tune
their engine for the June finals.
Spain went into the encounter having enjoyed an unbeaten run since their
World Cup second phase defeat at French hands in 2006, a result which was the
ninth success for Les Bleus in the countries' past ten meetings.
Raymond Domenech's French line-up included three stalwarts of the 1998
World Cup win in the shape of Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thuram and Thierry Henry
but also, in Nicolas Anelka, another veteran who missed out on that triumph
and the Euro 2000 success which followed.
Henry should have spared French blushed when he headed wide from barely
three metres out after Lyon star striker Karim Benzema had neaded against the
bar, though the former was standing in an offside position.
Spain have, along with England, been Europe's great under-achievers with
nothing to show for their efforts since a 1964 continental win on home soil
despite the regular dominance of their top clubs.
But with stars such as Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Real Madrid
defender Sergio Ramos blossoming the "Furia Roja" will hope for better things
in this summer's finals, when they go up in their group against holders
Greece, Russia and Sweden.
The hosts were unable to give a debut to teen sensation Bojan Krkic, who
had to cry off with illness when the Barcelona youngster was poised to become
Spain's youngest ever layer at the age of 17 and 162 days.
Torres meanwhile made little impact on Wednesday's proceedings, limping off
clutching his thigh on 24 minutes after a bruising challenge from Thuram.
A lob by Henry in the seventh minute showed France had not just come down
to Andalusia for a spot of tourism while a low drive from former Arsenal
teammate Cesc Fabregas was meat and drink for French keeper Gregory Coupet.
Anelka gave way on the hour to Benzema, who was caught offside in the
closing stages as he tried to latch on to an astute Henry flick while at the
other end Spain had earlier come close to breaking the deadlock when a David
Villa freekick hit the woodwork ten minutes after the interval.