Soldado adds attacking option for Spain

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was a happy man after Wednesday's 5-0 drubbing of Venezuela, saying the world and European champions had achieved all the goals they set themselves for the friendly in Malaga.

It was a final chance for him to experiment before he names his final Euro 2012 squad in May and several of the players out to prove they deserve to be on the plane to Poland in June responded in emphatic style.

Roberto Soldado, who was recalled to the squad after a five-year absence to replace the misfiring Fernando Torres, has surely booked his ticket after he came on at half-time and netted a hat-trick.

The tenacious Valencia striker, who failed to score on his previous two appearances for the national side in 2007, has the ability to arrive in the right place at the right time and all three of his goals finished off typically slick passing moves.

He blotted his copybook slightly when his tame penalty, which he won himself after being hauled down with the empty goal at his mercy, was saved by Venezuela goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez but his overall performance drew effusive praise from team-mates.

"It's a privilege to have great forwards in Spain," Santi Cazorla, who provided the assist for Soldado's first goal, told reporters.

"Whoever goes to the European Championships the problem of scoring goals will be well covered," the Malaga midfielder added.

"Whenever he plays he seems to score," said defender Alvaro Arbeloa, who made the pass for Soldado's second. "He took his chance to perfection."


If Soldado was something of a welcome revelation for Del Bosque, there were plenty of other reasons for the former Real Madrid coach to be pleased with his side's dominant performance against the 2011 Copa America semi-finalists.

Andres Iniesta and David Silva were a constant menace in their roving attacking roles and it was Iniesta who opened the scoring in the 37th minute followed by a second scored by Silva three minutes later.

Cesc Fabregas made the final pass for both goals and the Barcelona midfielder turned in an assured performance in the central playmaker role, also getting into goal-scoring positions several times himself, before being substituted in the second half.

Jordi Alba and Arbeloa were resolute in defence and dangerous in attack at left and right-back respectively and centre-backs Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos already look to have developed a highly effective partnership.

Real coach Jose Mourinho has switched Ramos, who sent a header crashing against the crossbar early in the game, from right-back into the middle and Del Bosque has done the same for the national side.

"Everything that we had planned panned out well," Del Bosque told a news conference.

"One of the characteristics and great advantages of this team is that it allows a lot of variations and all of them are effective," he added.

Spain will face stiffer opposition than Venezuela at Euro 2012 but on Wednesday's evidence it would be unwise to bet against them becoming the first country to win back-to-back European Championships with a World Cup triumph between.