Torres, Spain trounce New Zealand
Fernando Torres scored a hat trick in the first 17 minutes as Spain crushed overmatched New Zealand 5-0 in their Confederations Cup opener on Sunday in Rustenberg, South Africa.
Cesc Fabregas scored in the 24th minute, and David Villa heaped on another early in the second half for the world's No. 1-ranked soccer team, which ran its unbeaten streak to 33 games.
"Basically, we were superior," said Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque, whose team is two shy of Brazil's record. "We can't get ahead of ourselves just yet. Today they made it easy for us in the first half."
Outshooting its opponents 21-8, Spain showed why it is the clear favourite in Group A, where earlier in the day South Africa and Iraq played to a 0-0 draw in Johannesburg.
Spain will meet Iraq on Wednesday (CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET) while New Zealand tries to rebound against the host country (CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).
About two-thirds of the seats at Royal Bafokeng Stadium appeared empty for Sunday's match between the reigning champions of Europe and the Oceania region.
Organizers had insisted in the buildup that all but the expensive 700-rand ($97 Cdn) seats had been sold out, but come kickoff empty yellow and blue seats outnumbered fans at the 45,000-capacity stadium. Prices started at $8.75.
Those who did show up were a festive lot and Torres gave them plenty to cheer about. The show started just six minutes into the match, when the Liverpool forward took a feed from Villa and buried it into the top right corner.
Boyens botches one
The dynamic duo struck again at the 14-minute mark as Villa set up an unmarked Torres for a side-footer from seven yards out.
Torres almost completed the hat trick in the 16th minute, but his point-blank header was weak and easily handled by goalkeeper Glen Moss. No more than a minute later, Torres didn't make the same mistake, blasting a header home off a cross from Joan Capdevila.
"The truth is that it was a great boost for the team to come out and start like that," Torres said.
Fabregas made it 4-0 when Capdevila set him up for an easy tap in, and the game was all but over at the half.
The most embarrassing moment, though, was still to come for the Kiwis. Just three minutes after the break, Torres slithered through defenders on the left wing and delivered a cross.
New Zealand defender and former Toronto FC player Andy Boyens whiffed on the easy clearance, gifting a goal to Villa.
The Spaniards eased off and essentially played keepaway for the remainder of the match as they finished with a 59 per cent advantage in possession time.
"I don't think you or they are surprised by what happened on the field," New Zealand coach Riki Herbert said. "It was always going to be tough for us, but we still have two big matches left."
With files from The Associated Press