Spain beats Honduras 2-0
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — David Villa scored two goals Monday to put Spain’s World Cup back on track with a 2-0 victory over Honduras.
Villa beat three defenders in the 17th minute at Ellis Park and Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares got a touch on the rising shot but couldn’t keep it out. Villa scored his 40th goal in the 51st when his shot from the edge of the area deflected off a defender and went over Valladares.
The Spain striker had a chance for a hat trick but he missed a penalty in the 62nd. Spain earned the penalty when Jesus Navas was tripped up inside the right side of the area.
Spain has three points and can still win Group H with a victory over Chile, which earlier beat Switzerland 1-0 and leads with six points. Switzerland has three points and Honduras has zero.
“If we beat Chile we’re practically group winners, so we’re happy,” Villa said. “The good thing is that this result means we depend on ourselves.”
Villa single-handedly took the pressure off Spain — a favorite coming into the tournament in South Africa — with a superb individual opener that helped erase a frustrating start.
“Our (1-0) loss to Switzerland is water under the bridge,” Villa said. “Today, we played in the same style, we attacked with short passes and we had some very good chances.”
His fifth World Cup goal put him even with four Spain players as the country’s leading scorer in the competition and moved him within four goals of Raul Gonzalez’s record of 44 for the national team.
“It’s a shame,” Villa said. “I could have passed (the other four players) with a penalty but I’m still happy with this result.”
The win improved Spain’s chances of avoiding a potential matchup with Brazil in the round of 16. Honduras, however, must beat Switzerland in its last match and hope Chile defeats Spain.
“There’s no great analysis needed. We knew there was no tomorrow, that it was a must-win (match),” Honduras captain Amado Guevara said. “Now we need to keep working and move forward.”
Spain attacked from the start and created a handful of early chances, including a long-range shot from Villa that beat the outstretched Valladares but hit the crossbar in the seventh.
Ramos, whose ninth-minute penalty appeal was waived away, headed Joan Capdevila’s cross over at the far post in the 11th.
Spain’s defense provided goalkeeper Iker Casillas with some nervous moments soon after as the captain rushed to catch a high ball before blocking Amado Guevara’s shot just before Villa’s goal.
Navas’ speed kept Honduras off-kilter, while Fernando Torres — uncharacteristically — missed three clear chances in the first half.
The Liverpool striker, making his first start since right knee surgery in April, headed over the bar before sending a shot high in the 33rd. He then wasted Villa’s fine pass from inside the area at the close of the half.
Honduras brought striker Georgie Welcome on for Roger Espinoza after the restart but were left exposed as Xavi Hernandez guided the breakout that led to Villa’s second goal.
Spain was guilty of using too many touches as it blew great buildups on goal either side of Villa’s penalty miss, and David Suazo finally got a shot off for Honduras in the 65th.
“We lacked conviction,” Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “There’s nothing much to explain except that we had a superior team in front of us.”
Cesc Fabregas came on for Xavi in the 66th and rounded Valladares with his first touch only for Chavez to clear it off the goal line. Fabregas, who didn’t play against the Swiss, was a constant threat as Spain peppered its opponent’s goal to the end, with Ramos coming close in the 67th.