Spain edge France in international friendly

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Spain edged out France 1-0 in a Euro 2008 warm-up friendly international here on Wednesday.

7 February 2008
MALAGA - 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 rebuilding phase.

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.

[Copyright AFP 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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