Fri, Jun 01, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Torres celebrates his return with a goal

AFP, Bern

Spain’s Fernando Torres, left, scores past South Korea goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon, right, as Sergio Ramos looks on in their international friendly in Bern, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Fernando Torres celebrated his return to the Spain team with a first-half goal as the World and European Champions continued their preparations for Euro2012 with a 4-1 win over South Korea.

Fresh from capturing the Champions League with Chelsea, Torres’ fortunes appear to be turning after what was generally a poor campaign where he scored just 11 goals and was dropped from the Spain squad in February.

Following an anxious wait, he was included by coach Vicente Del Bosque in the Spain squad which will travel to Poland next week and it was he who got the opening goal after 11 minutes in the friendly against South Korea in Bern, Switzerland.

“I’m feeling good at the moment, both physically and mentally. Training is going well and now I’m looking forward to the competition. Sometimes when you are not involved and things are not going well it helps you to see the bigger picture, and evaluate your position,” Torres said.

“It is a reward for me to be here and I am going to take the opportunity, and try and make the most of it. It has been a difficult time, but hopefully that is now in the past,” he said.

In a relaxed atmosphere, with Spain still without their Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao contingent who were involved in the Copa del Rey final on Friday last week, South Korea equalized through Kim Do-heon two minutes before halftime.

After the interval, goals by Xabi Alonso, from the penalty spot, Santi Cazorla and Alvaro Negredo assured a comfortable win for Spain.

It was a stern test for South Korea, who famously knocked Spain out in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup on penalties, but it served as a useful warm-up game with important World Cup qualifying matches against Qatar and Lebanon ahead.

Del Bosque anticipated a hardworking South Korea side, who would look to press and close them down, saying it could be something similar to what they could expect from their Group C rivals the Republic of Ireland at the championships next month.

However, it did not seem that way as Spain quickly asserted themselves.

Alonso caused danger to the South Korea goal with a long-range strike after nine minutes which was parried behind for a corner by goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon, but a couple of minutes later Spain got the breakthrough.

Benat Etxebarria sent a deep cross from the left which Torres headed over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Cazorla had another drive repelled by Kim Jin-hyeon, before South Korea settled and Son Heung-min fired a whisker wide after 20 minutes.

Spain dropped their level as the first half progressed and paid for their lethargy as Kim Do-heon hit an excellent equalizer from distance before the break.

Following the restart Alonso restored Spain’s advantage from the penalty spot after Cho Yong-hyung charged down a Nacho Monreal shot with his arm and a clever free-kick from Cazorla, after 55 minutes, went under the wall and deceived the goalkeeper.

Sevilla striker Negredo wrapped up the scoring 11 minutes from time.

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