Pedro Rodriguez delivers hat trick as Spain blanks Belarus
Minsk, Belarus (4E Sports) – Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez scored a hat trick as defending champion Spain stretched its unbeaten World Cup qualification run to 47 games with a 4-0 blanking of Belarus Friday at Dinamo Stadion.
With two wins, the Spaniards are now tied for the Group I lead with France but not for long as they will clash in Madrid Tuesday. Belarus, meanwhile, lost all three of its matches so far, and faces Georgia next.
“We played well and controlled the match. They [Belarus] could not play to our level, and never felt comfortable on the pitch,” Spain manager Vicente del Bosque said.
“It was a good game, very complete. The players felt very comfortable from the beginning, linked well, played with depth, and recovered the ball well. The talent and quality of our players did the rest,” he added.
Jordi Alba scored the first goal for Spain in the 12th minute after a wonderful passing display between Xavi and Rodriguez.
Rodriguez then increased Spain’s lead 10 minutes later, sinking a close shot past Sergey Veremko from an assist by David Silva.
The Spaniards started the second half in a similar fashion, with Rodriguez scoring their third goal from an assist by Xavi in the 69th minute.
Three minutes later, Rodriguez completed a hat trick with a close-range finish against Veremko.
Belarus had a chance to cut the deficit but Stanislav Dragun’s kick went over the crossbar in the 76th minute.
“It will be a very difficult game because France has an extraordinary squad. They have strength in depth in attack, and have very good players elsewhere who are calm but with physical power,” del Bosque said about Spain’s upcoming match against France.
In other matches, England relied on Wayne Rooney’s two goals to blank San Marino, 5-0; Finland and Georgia battled to a 1-1 draw; Croatia defeated Macedonia, 2-1; Belgium blanked Serbia, 3-0; Wales beat Scotland, 2-1; Czech Republic defeated Malta, 3-1;Italy downed Armenia, 3-1; Denmark and Bulgaria battled to a 1-1 draw; Sweden beat Faroe Island, 2-1; Germany beat Ireland, 6-1.
Meanwhile, Austria and Kazakhstan battle to a scoreless draw; Romania defeated Turkey, 1-0; Hungary beat Estonia, 1-0; Netherlands blanked Andorra, 3-0; Iceland beat Albania, 2-1; Norway and Switzerland fought to a 1-1 tie; Slovenia topped Cyprus, 2-1; Russia beat Portugal, 1-0; Israel dumped Luxemborg, 6-0; Lithuania dropped Liechtenstein, 2-0; Slovakia beat Latvia, 2-1; Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina ad Moldova and Ukraine fought to a scoreless draw.