World Cup 2006

Qualifying match

Spain 5 - Slovakia 1

Spain: Casillas; Michel Salgado, Puyol, Pablo, Del Horno; Albelda (Xabi Alonso 66'), Xavi; Luis García (Morientes 76'), Raúl, Reyes (Vicente 55'); Fernando Torres. 4-2-3-1.
Slovakia: Contofalsky; Petras, Skrtel, Kratochvil, Had; Zabavnik; Karhan (Janocko 73'), Hlinka, Hodur (Gresko 67'), Holosko (Nemeth 46'); Vittek. 4-1-4-1.

1-0. 10. Luis García. Header into far top corner of net from Xavi corner.
2-0. 18. Luis García. Collected Xavi chipped pass on chest and shot past keeper.
2-1. 48. Nemeth. Intercepted Luis García back pass and shot low past Casillas.
3-1. 65. Fernando Torres (penalty). After Kratochvil handled ball inside area.
4-1. 74. Luis García. Turned ball inside near post from low Vicente cross.
5-1. 79. Morientes. Got above defence to head Vicente cross past Contofalsky.

Spain virtually secured a place in next summer's World Cup with a 5-1 win over Slovakia. The hero of the night was Luis García, who had a hand in all but one of the goals (including the one scored by the opposite side) and completed his hat-trick before going off to a standing ovation by the crowd. The Liverpool midfielder had never scored for his country, but within twenty minutes he had his name on the board twice, heading Xavi's corner past Contofalsky in the tenth minute and then adding a second after combining once again with his ex Barcelona team mate.

After that Spain could have scored a hatful, with Fernando Torres hitting the bar, Raúl and Reyes shooting just wide and Raúl having a strike ruled out incorrectly for offside just before the interval. However Slovakia's coach Dusan Galis (who had been sent off for protesting the second goal) gave orders for Nemeth to be brought on at the break and it paid off when the Middlesbrough striker intercepted a shocking back-pass by Luis García to drill a shot wide of Casillas.

That was the away goal that everybody in Spain feared, and for a few minutes the East Europeans started to look dangerous. But twenty minutes in to the half Luis García broke into the penalty box, and although he only half hit his shot, defender Kratochvil slid in to carry the ball away with his arm. Italian referee Mr. De Santis immediately pointed to the spot and then dished out a second yellow card to Had for protesting, and when Fernando Torres drove the spot kick high in to the net Spain were back on track.

It didn't take long after that for Luis García to complete his hat-trick, getting on the end of a fierce cross from Vicente to turn the ball inside the near post. Two minutes later he was replaced by his Liverpool team mate Morientes, who made his mark almost immediately heading a fifth goal from another Vicente cross. It was the final blow for a Slovakia side who will be missing three or four of their best players for the return leg after picking up bookings, and the game in Bratislava must now just be a formality. Luis Aragonés can start to dust off his German phrasebook.