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Torres leads Spain to 5-0 rout over New Zealand

FERNANDO Torres scored a hat trick in the first 17 minutes yesterday to lead Spain over New Zealand 5-0 on the opening day of the Confederations Cup.

The European champions stretched their unbeaten run to 33 games - two shy of Brazil's record of 35 - with a dominating performance at the Royal Bafokeng stadium.

"Basically, we were superior," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves just yet. Today they made it easy for us in the first half."

Torres beat New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss with a curling shot, a redirected ball and a powerful header. Cesc Fabregas and David Villa also scored, with Villa's 29th goal moving him to second in Spain's all-time scoring chart alongside Fernando Hierro.

"The truth is that it was a great boost for the team to come out and start like that," Torres said. "Now I just want to keep scoring goals in the tournament and try to be the top scorer in the end."

Spain leads Group A with three points and will next play Iraq, which held host South Africa to a 0-0 draw.

"We're in a fantastic situation to win this tournament," said Torres, who scored his second career hat trick.

The Spanish put on another display of the quick-touch, attacking football that hasn't failed it since November 2006. Even without regular midfielders Andres Iniesta and Marcos Senna, Fabregas and Albert Riera slotted into their spots on the wings seamlessly.

"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."

Torres, who received ovations with nearly every touch of the ball, first scored in the sixth minute by sending a right-footed shot past Moss and into the top right of goal.

Spain exploited the left side for its next three goals. Riera found Villa with a through ball in the 14th and the Valencia striker passed back into the box for Torres to redirect under Moss.

Moss was quick to catch a header from Torres two minutes later, but the Liverpool striker eventually took his international goal tally to 22 from 63 games after getting high over his marker to power Joan Capdevila's cross from the flank into the top corner.

Spain held nearly two-thirds of the possession and Riera put Capdevila clear through in the 24th. The Villarreal left back found Fabregas wide open in front of goal.

In the 48th, Torres beat two New Zealand players on a long run before sending a bouncing pass into the area that Andy Boyens missed as he tried to clear, and Villa was there to sidefoot the ball home at the far post.

Villa, who nearly had his 30th goal in the 60th but shot wide, now trails only the 44 goals scored by Raul Gonzalez.

Torres, who would have likely had a fourth except for Sergio Ramos getting in the way of Carles Puyol's cross in the 41st, left to a standing ovation from the 21,649 fans in the 70th.

Although New Zealand spent most of the match looking stunned, Shane Smeltz, Jeremy Brockie and Dave Mulligan all tested goalkeeper Iker Casillas as the Oceania champions had come in off what had been a morale-boosting 4-3 loss to World Cup holder Italy.

It was the first of four games to be played at the 45,000-capacity Royal Bafokeng stadium.


New Zealand: Glen Moss, Tony Lochhead, Andrew Boyens, David Mulligan, Tim Brown, Jeremy Brockie (Jeremy Christie, 27), Leo Bertos, Ivan Vicelich, Simon Elliott, Shane Smeltz (Chris James, 76), Chris Killen (Kris Bright, 85).

Spain: Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, Sergio Ramos (Alvaro Arbeloa, 54), Raul Albiol, Joan Capdevila, Xavi Hernandez (Santi Cazorla, 54), Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Albert Riera, Fernando Torres (David Silva, 70), David Villa.


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