World Cup underachievers Spain have signaled their intent with a 4-0 victory, the tournament’s biggest win so far, over Ukraine.
The European debutants received a harsh footballing lesson as Luis Aragones’ men went close to already cementing a place in the final 16.
It started early when Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso scored his first ever goal for Spain on 13 minutes when he headed home from a corner to opening the scoring.
Just four minutes later, defender Andriy Rusol gave away a sloppy free kick and collected a yellow card for his troubles.
But his problems didn’t end there.
Spanish striker David Villa continued his scoring touch from La Liga this season to send in a free kick, and it took a large deflection off Rusol before flying into the back of the net.
David Villa start his tally
Ukraine had their chances, midfielder Andri Gusin making a run on 32 minutes to put a shot on target.
The Krylya Sovietov Samara midfielder showed the incredible healing power of today’s footballers as he sprung to his feet as the opportunity presented itself just moments after he was writhing in agony.
The second half started just as bleakly as the first half ended for Ukrainian supporters, defender Vladyslav Vashchuk had the dubious distinction of becoming the first man to receive a straight red card after referee Massimo Busacca gave him his marching orders for a foul on Athletico Madrid’s Fernado Torres.
The replays showed the decision to be harsh and as Villa smashed home the resulting spot kick it seemed the Eastern Europeans were destined to suffer defeat in their first World Cup match.
Such was the comprehensive nature of the victory that Aragones took the opportunity to rest many of his stars once victory was secure and give match time to the recovering Raul and midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
The appearance by the 19 year old Arsenal midfielder made him the youngest ever Spanish player to play at a World Cup, while Aragones looked for Raul to gain valuable game time.
Fernando hits the fourth
On 81 minutes the rout was complete.
Defensive workhorse Carlos Puyol made a twisting run before a neat interchange of passing saw the Barcelona captain send a cushioned header down for Torres to score his 11th goal for Spain and his side’s fourth of the day.