Spain swatted China 3-0 in an international friendly in a rain-soaked
warm-up for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Serbia and Montenegro.
The Spaniards were without star striker Raul, scorer of a record 41
goals in more than 80 appearances for his country, the Real Madrid forward
sitting out the match with a left leg injury to bolster his chances of
being fit for midweek.
But the hosts were unfazed by his absence, Atletico Madrid striker
Fernando Torres giving them the lead after just three minutes from the
Barcelona star Xavi sent the dangerous Joaquin of Real Betis away into
the danger area and as Albert Luque looked to latch onto the through ball
he was bundled over inside the box.
Chinese keeper Lu Yun Fei was powerless to stop the kick as Spain made
the perfect start.
If China thought their luck was out with the penalty the second goal
confirmed as much as Xavi made it 2-0 on the half hour with a freekick
which took a huge deflection
off the defensive wall.
Just beforehand, the hosts had had a goal chalked off with Torres
caught offside as Pablo Ibanez headed home from a Xavi corner.
Spain coach Luis Aragones called up five new faces, including
Liverpool's Luis Garcia, to the squad, with Sergio Ramos of Seville,
Valencia's David Navarro and Mista and Antonio Lopez of Atletico Madrid
the men looking for a chance to impress.
But it was the seasoned Joaquin who bagged the limelight as he chipped
home a neat third to kill the contest in the 53rd minute, latching on to
Ivan de la Pena's astute pass.
Defender Ramos, just 18, was effective but under-employed as the
Chinese failed to take the game to their counterparts, while Garcia
replaced Joaquin following the latter's goal.
At the other end Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas broke off from being
a virtual spectator to save smartly as June bore down on him after Mista
failed to add to the overwhelmed vistors' embarrassment in the closing
stages by firing high and wide at the other end.
Chinese coach Zhu Guanghu, as expected, did not include his three
English Premiership-based stars Li Tie of Everton, Sun Jihai of Manchester
City or Hao Haidong of Sheffield United.
Chinese football is currently at a crossroads with the team having
failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
Yan Shiduo was sacked as
head of the China Football Association (CFA) afterwards to give way to Xie
Yalong, a leading sports official formerly in charge of China's track and
field association and number two at Bejing Sports University.
In addition, the country's Super League has been plagued by corruption
and gambling and faces a new season without a major sponsor.
Now the country is trying to rebuild the national side, which played in
the 2004 World Cup finals but exited in the opening phase, in time for the
2008 Beijing Olympics.