Spain is back.
Like its game against Switzerland, Spain unleashed a spirited, 90-minute assault, complete with all the tight passing, beautiful runs to space, and laser strikes on goal you expect from the Red Fury.
This time, however, the World Cup co-favorites found the back of the net.
That task was made easier by a rickety Honduran back line that pales in comparison to Switzerland’s defense, which in the words of ESPN announcer Adrian Healey, is “tighter than a tax man’s wallet.”
The other main difference between Spain’s first two opponents was the quality of Switzerland’s counterattack.
The Central American team wasn't able convert its limited possession into anything resembling good chances on goal. And, although they withstood Spain’s withering attack bravely, they should be grateful not to have conceded more goals. Los Catrachos, as the Honduran team is known, could have easily been pounded 7-0, as the hapless North Koreans were earlier today by Portugal.
In the 17th minute, Spanish striker David Villa scored one of the tournament's most beautiful goals with a slashing run into the box. He left three defenders in the dust before taking the ball inside and sliding it between two Hondurans and past the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand.
Villa struck again minutes into the second half with a shot from just outside the 18-yard line that glanced off a defender and looped into the goal.
He should have had a hat trick in the 62nd minute, but missed from the penalty spot.
After Japanese referee Yuichi Niushimura called a penalty on Honduran defender Emilio Izaguirre for a silly, insignificant foul sold well by Spanish striker Jesus Navas, Villa got the chance to score his third goal. But he seemed to concentrate so much on getting the keeper to go the wrong way that he missed the goal entirely.
Spain is now back in the hunt. But it still must beat an impressive Chilean team (with two wins) and hope that Honduras can hold the solid Swiss to a tie on Friday.
Spain are favored to beat Chile, but they may not be able to afford the amount of missed goals they had today.
As for Honduras, they are now all but eliminated.
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