World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

San Marino 0 - Spain 6

San Marino: Federico Gasperoni; Andreini (Palazzi 84'), Bacciocchi, Della Valle, Vannucci; Alex Gasperoni, Domeniconi, Marani (Federico Nanni 87'), Luca Nanni, Moretti; Montagna (Massi 71'). 4-5-1.
Spain: Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Juanito, Pablo, Antonio López; Albelda, De la Peña; David Villa (Baraja 57'), Raúl (Mista 72'), Reyes (Vicente 68'); Fernando Torres. 4-2-3-1.

0-1. 01. Antonio López. Ran on to fire long shot past keeper into far corner of net.
0-2. 10. Fernando Torres. Chested down Reyes free kick and shot across keeper.
0-3. 30. Sergio Ramos. From close up after Raúl shot blocked by defender.
0-4. 48. Sergio Ramos. Steered header inside far post from De la Peña corner.
0-5. 78. Fernando Torres (penalty). After Torres pushed over by Luca Nanni.
0-6. 88. Fernando Torres. Got on the end of Baraja cross to turn ball past keeper.

Spain will have to play a tricky play-off match next month to qualify for the World Cup after they finished second to Serbia in their group. Luis Aragonés's side needed to win by more than four goals against San Marino and hope that Bosnia could hold the Serbs to a draw in the other group game. And although Spain got six against their modest opponents, Serbia won 1-0 to finish two points ahead of them in the table.

Aragonés made several changes to his side, including Villa and Reyes who helped turn things around against Belgium. Vicente and Puyol, who had a punch up in training earlier in the week, were left out, the latter ostensibly to prevent him from getting the yellow card which would mean he could miss the play-off game through suspension, and Sergio Ramos and De la Peña came in for the suspended Salgado and Xavi.

Antonio López gave his side a best possible start with a goal in the first minute, and Fernando Torres added a second ten minutes later after picking up a free kick from Reyes. Sergio Ramos got his first goal for Spain on the half hour mark after Torres, Villa and Raúl all had a hand in the build up, and then got his second three minutes in to the second half from De la Peña's corner.

The news from Belgrade was not good, but just in case Spain kept up the attack. Gasperoni saved well from Baraja and then tipped a header from Torres over the bar, and Raúl got through only to shoot just wide of the post. And Casillas brought a cheer out of the travelling Spanish fans when he came out of his area to clear, virtually the first time he had touched the ball all game.

With twelve minutes to go Torres won himself a penalty and converted it himself, and he completed his hat-trick ten minutes later after turning Baraja's cross past the keeper. By now Serbia were down to ten men, and all ears were on the nearest radio. But their game finished a couple of minutes after Spain's, and another play-off looms.

The good news if any is that "la selección" will be seeded together with Turkey and the Czech Republic, and their possible opponents will therefore be Norway (who they beat on the way to Euro 2004), Switzerland and Slovakia. But it would have been so much easier if they could have got a couple more points or so earlier in the campaign.