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Mar 27, 2013

Pedro delighted with France win

Spain's players were relieved as well as happy after Tuesday evening's tightly fought 1-0 World Cup qualifying win in France set them back on the road to automatic qualification to next year's finals in Brazil.

• Clinical Spain oust Les Bleus

The victory saw Spain move a point ahead of France in the Group I table, with both teams having three games left to play. Goalscorer Pedro told Telecinco afterwards Spain had known pre-game that it was a game they had to win.

"It was important to win, we managed that and I am very happy," Pedro said. "It is a very big joy for us. We could not fail here."

Pedro's scrambled second half strike, when he got ahead of Patrice Evra to knock home Nacho Monreal's cross via France keeper Hugo Lloris' chest, was his tenth in eight internationals this season.

The Barcelona winger accepted the goal had been a bit scrappy, but said they all count. "I came sprinting in and got a touch on the ball," he said. "The cross was really good. I don't know exactly how the ball went in, but the most important thing was to win."

Spain should have had a penalty in the first half when Lloris knocked him over inside the area, Pedro claimed. "For me it is a penalty," he added. "I am running through, he touches me and knocks me over."

Arsenal left-back Monreal told reporters that Spain had deserved to take the three points, and he himself was happy to make the most of the chance to start in place of hamstrung first choice Jordi Alba.

"It was a tough game and we had to work very hard," Monreal said. "We played our football and we had our chances. We got a deserved win. I had been working hard so that I could make the most of an opportunity when it came. Alba's unfortunate injury opened the door for me."

Monreal impressed at both ends of the pitch, looking secure in defence as well as getting forward when he could, most tellingly with the cross for the game's only goal. The former Osasuna and Malaga full-back said he was only doing what coach Vicente Del Bosque had asked of him.

"Fortunately, as well to defend, the coach asks that we help out in attack," he said. "And my second move up the pitch ended up in a goal."

Spain had come into the game under pressure after drawing 1-1 at home to Finland last Friday, knowing that failing to win would mean they would likely have to come through a play-off if they were not to become the first holders not to defend the trophy.

Andres Iniesta said on Telecinco that the players had not worried about what people outside the camp were saying, as they always believed they could step up when in it mattered most.

"The team never had any doubts," he said. "That was all coming from outside. The game was very serious and competitive. The team stepped up to it. In a way though it is normal that people might have doubts. When there is so much success and excellence, and there is a defeat, the comments come out. We were hurting after the Finland game, and we responded well."

Iniesta also had praise for his club mate Victor Valdes, in goal in place of the injured Iker Casillas, who made a crucial save in each half from Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra.

"The goals are very safe with Valdes," he said. "He played as he always does."

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