Rampant Spain sound off another warning

VIENNA - European champions Spain sounded off another warning to the other World Cup finalists with their resounding 5-1 win in Austria on Wednesday.

Vicente del Bosque's team gave an apparently effortless performance and barely flinched even when the hosts took an early lead through Jakob Jantscher.

It was their eighth win in a row and their 23rd in 24 outings - a run interrupted only by a 2-0 loss to the United States at the Confederations Cup earlier this year.

That defeat was their only one in 44 games since the end of 2006.

Spain have also managed to score five goals in three of their last six outings - the previous coming against Belgium and Bosnia in World Cup qualifiers.

Even without Fernando Torres, Spain completely dominated a young Austria side, missing their top player Andreas Ivanschitz who was controversially omitted by coach Didi Constantini.

There was barely a high cross or speculative long ball forward to be seen as Spain played their passing game to near perfection and frequently attacked with five or six players.

Perhaps the only worry for Del Bosque is whether his players can maintain their form until and during the World Cup.

Brazil were similarly dominant before the 2006 World Cup but were let down by poor preparation and gave a lacklustre performance in Germany which ended with a quarter-final defeat to France.

"We've reached a spectacular standard," said striker David Villa, whose two cleverly taken close range goals on Wednesday took his tally to 35 in 54 internationals.

"But this is today, we'll have to see what happens in June."

David Silva, who set up two goals with defence-splitting passes, added: "It's been a really good game, the truth is that the team is on the way up, I hope we can keep it up for the whole of next year.

"We're enjoying ourselves on the pitch and, when you're enjoying it, things work out well."

Constantini added that his team had failed to make Spain's life more difficult.

"When you're the underdogs and are facing top-level opposition, you have to try and make as few mistakes as possible. We didn't succeed in doing that."