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Casillas shrugs it off as one-off

ALTHOUGH admitting the United States was the better team, Spain believes its loss to the Americans in the Confederations Cup semifinals was likely a one-time thing.

"In all sincerity, only one time in 10 do I think we would lose against them," Spain captain Iker Casillas said yesterday. "But yesterday, they deserved to reach the final."

The European champions, who hadn't lost since November 2006, stayed even with Brazil's 1993-96 team with the longest unbeaten run of 35 matches.

"It's clear we weren't going to be invincible for life," Casillas said yesterday.

"There's no reason to get on the players or the coach for the result at this tournament because we managed an impressive streak of wins."

Spain has won plaudits for its attacking style of play and quick one-touch passing in the midfield, but at the Free State Stadium that philosophy didn't pan out.

"It just goes to show that the team that plays better and holds better possession doesn't always win," Casillas said. "Luck doesn't always follow you, so you have to look at positives."

There were few defensive positives to take away, however.

During its 35-game undefeated run, Spain conceded only 10 goals. It's normally steady back line looked sluggish from the opening whistle on Wednesday and blunders led to both goals.

"They didn't have so many chances," said center back Carles Puyol, who was often troubled by striker Jozy Altidore's speed on the counter.

Puyol wasn't worried about Spain's defensive frailties even after it was exposed by a quick United States team. Puyol believed Spain could weather a more potent foe like Brazil or Argentina.

"They came out very aggressively and only had two or three chances on goal and scored both," the Barcelona defender said. "The team has shown that defensively that it is strong so we don't have to be worried."

Casillas was more realistic after glaring blunders by Joan Capdevila and Sergio Ramos led to the goals. "Defensively, we lacked the final 10 meters in front of goal," the Real Madrid goalkeeper said.

"Those two absurd, rare plays cost us the goals."

Spain has nearly qualified for the World Cup and was happy to accept defeat now rather than at next year's World Cup, which will also be played in South Africa. But Casillas downplayed Spain's chances of picking up its first trophy from football's showcase event. "First we have to qualify and with the team we have we can do great things," Casillas said. "But not in any moment do we go as favorites. We have to be cautious."


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