AARHUS, Denmark, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Spain beat Denmark 3-1
with some clinical finishing in their Euro 2008 Group F
qualifier on Saturday, severely jeopardising the Danes' chances
of making it to next year's finals.
The win meant Spain joined Sweden, who have a game in hand,
on 22 points at the top of the group, with Denmark languishing
in fourth on 14 points behind Northern Ireland on 16.
Raul Tamudo opened the scoring for Spain in the 14th minute
when he calmly headed a cross from Andres Iniesta over
goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
Sergio Ramos made it 2-0 in the 40th minute when he was
sprung free in the box after a one-two with Xavi and lifted the
ball over a diving Sorensen.
The Spaniards converted their first two chances, putting
aside any worries about their attack even as their top scorer in
the qualifiers with seven goals, Valencia striker David Villa,
and Liverpool's Fernando Torres were absent through injury.
'I came here to do my job,' said Tamudo, who returned to the
national squad after a two-year absence and now has five goals
in 10 appearances. 'What's important is the result we obtained
in a very difficult match.'
The Danes were as profligate with their chances as the
Spaniards were efficient at taking theirs.
In turn, Dennis Rommedahl, Daniel Jensen, Jesper Gronkjaer
and Thomas Helveg missed the net from close range or were
thwarted by Spian keeper Iker Casillas.
'We are disappointed and frustrated after the match,' said
Denmark coach Morten Olsen. 'We had a lot of chances against the
Spanish team but we didn't exploit them.'
After substitute Nicklas Bendtner hit the post with a long
shot in the 74th minute, Jon Dahl Tomasson finally cut the
deficit when he stabbed in from close range in the 88th minute.
But it was too little too late for the home side and Spain
substitute Albert Riera made it 3-1 a minute later with a shot
from outside the box after Christian Poulsen lost the ball, to
put the visitors closer to qualifying for next year's finals.
'We made some errors and didn't have luck on our side,'
Tomasson said. 'The chances of making the (finals) are very far
Spain coach Luis Aragones praised his team's first-half
performance although he was less pleased with the second period.
'I am satisfied with the first half,' he said. 'In the
second half we gave away possession and it was more difficult,
but we were fortunate. We won a match that we had to win.'