World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

Spain 1 - Lithuania 0

Spain: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Puyol, Marchena, Del Horno (Luis García 62'); Xavi, Albelda; Joaquín, Raúl (Sergio Ramos 75'), Vicente; Fernando Torres (Luque 58'). 4-2-3-1.
Lithuania: Karcemarskas; Paulauskas, Barasa, Skerla, Dziaukstas; Zuirgzdauskas, Kucys (Preiksaitis 46'); Deividas Cesnaukis (Mikoliunas 73'), Poskus, Morinas (Edgaras Cesnaukis 73'); Danilevicius. 4-2-3-1.

1-0. 69. Luque. Low shot past keeper after Raúl played back Luis García pass.

A second half strike from Luque was enough to give Spain a narrow victory over a battling Lithuania in the first of two consecutive World Cup qualifying games in Valencia's Mestalla stadium. With a full strength line up, Luis Aragonés's side were favourites to win on paper. But as was the case with the under 21 team the day before, their opponents' defence proved hard to break down.

Spain got off to a promising start, Xavi testing a shaky keeper with a long shot early on and Del Horno heading Joaquín's cross over the bar soon afterwards. Fernando Torres fired a good chance straight at the keeper, and later in the first half had another effort blocked by his own player Raúl, and then failed to find a colleague after a good run from right of goal.

Torres headed over the bar soon after the restart, and Raúl brought a good save out of Karcemarskas with another head a couple of minutes later. But Poskus gave the local fans a fright when he headed past Casillas into the net only to be ruled marginally offside, and around the hour mark a concerned Luis Aragonés turned to Luque and Luis García in an attacking move to try and turn things around.

The changes seemed to inspire the side, and Xavi almost put them ahead when his free kick bounced back off the crossbar. And three minutes later Luque got the goal they had been desperately looking for, firing a low shot past the keeper after Raúl played back a pass in from Luis García.

Lithuania were still causing problems though, Poskus testing Casillas with a free kick, and Aragonés brought on Sergio Ramos to fill the left back spot and restore his old line-up. Even so it took a finger-tip save from the keeper in the last minute from another Poskus free kick to ensure the win which takes Spain level with Serbia at the top of the table. Not a pretty victory again, but at least Casillas can be happy after beating Zubizarreta's record of ten hours and 47 minutes without letting in a goal for his country. Where would they be without him?