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Confederations Cup - Torres treble helps Spain to win

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Denny crane

Denny crane
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Fernando Torres hit a first-half hat-trick as Spain thumped New Zealand 5-0 in their Group A clash at the Confederations Cup in Rustenburg.

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Goals from Cesc Fabregas and David Villa completed the rout as the Spanish showed their class against the Oceania champions, whose abject display lent support to coach Rikki Herbert's sugegstion that his side be allowed to compete as part of Asia to expose them to a higher level of football on a more regular basis.

New Zealand are ranked 82nd in the world, and the difference in quality with number-one side Spain was clear from the outset.

The Kiwis barely left their own half while the European champions raced into a 3-0 lead just after the quarter-hour mark through an 11-minute treble by Torres.

The defending from New Zealand was abject throughout.

On six minutes Villa picked the ball up on the left, fed it to Torres on the edge of the box and - as Andrew Boyens stood static in admiration of the Liverpool striker - the ex-Atletico Madrid forward swung a curling effort into the top-right.

It was 2-0 eight minutes later when Albert Riera combined with Villa, who hit the byline and laid-on an easy low finish for Torres as the opposition defence stood statuesque.

The Liverpool striker sealed his hat-trick on 17 minutes with a power-header that nestled in the top left after left-back Joan Capdevila's excellent cross.

Capdevila got his second assist midway through the first half, combining with Riera after a mesmerising 16-pass move to set up a simple Fabregas finish for Spain's fourth.

With the match easily won, Vicente del Bosque's side relaxed a little and New Zealand picked up some confidence.

Indeed, the remainder of the first half was relatively even with the only real chance falling to New Zealand, when David Mulligan's superb 43rd-minute free-kick was tipped around the post by Iker Casillas.

Chris Killen headed wide seconds later after a good cross from Ivan Vicelich but Herbert's side were unable to make a breakthrough and the half-time score was a comfortable 4-0.

The second half continued in a similar vein to the second quarter, with Spain stepping off and looking for the counter attack while New Zealand laboured as they tried to fashion an opening.

One could almost have forgotten Valencia man Villa's goal less than two minutes in, the Real Madrid and Chelsea target pouncing on a dreadful mistake by Boyens to drill a low shot into the bottom right for 5-0.

He came close to a second just before the hour mark but fired wide from the edge of the box, while Fabregas should have completed his brace with 13 minutes left but fired over after the Kiwi defence let the ball bounce in the area after Villa missed a header from Riera's centre.

Spain are favourites to win their group and all three games in it, with South Africa and Iraq's clashes with New Zealand likely to decide whether the hosts or Asian champions join them in the semi-finals.
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