Spain beat Croatia 2-1

Fernando Torres scored a late winner and Mariano Pernia equalized in Spain's 2-1 victory over Croatia in the teams' final World Cup warmup.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Fernando Torres scored a late winner and Mariano Pernia equalised in Spain's 2-1 victory over Croatia in the teams' final World Cup warmup on Wednesday. Argentina-born left back Pernia made his international debut after replacing the injured Asier del Horno in the squad last week. He scored with a low free kick which took a deflection off Croatia's Igor Tudor in the 62nd minute. Torres, who had missed a 75th-minute penalty, avoided two defenders before firing a low, left-footed shot past goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa two minutes into injury time. Croatia took the lead in the 14th minute through an own-goal by Spain defender Pablo Ibanez. Spain's victory at Geneva stadium extended its undefeated run to 22 matches - 13 wins and nine draws - since coach Luis Aragones took charge after the team flopped in the European Championship two years ago. Fruitful changes Pernia's inclusion was one of seven changes Aragones made to the team which beat Egypt 2-0 on Saturday. Returning from injury for his 50th international appearance was right back Michel Salgado, while goalkeeper Pepe Reina replaced Iker Casillas. Another newcomer, right winger Joaquin Sanchez, spurned a clear chance in the first minute when he headed wide from David Villa's cross with Pletikosa stranded. Croatia then mounted a brief spell of pressure which culminated when Pablo sent a looping header over Reina after Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez had deflected Niko Kranjcar's cross from the right. Angled shot Spain dominated the rest of the half, with Villa almost equalizing in the 18th with an angled shot which hit Pletikosa's right post and Jose Antonio Reyes curling a shot narrowly wide in the 33rd. Aragones responded with four halftime changes, with veteran goalkeeper Santiago Canizares replacing Reina for his first international match for over a year. Canizares was soon in action, diving to stop Kranjcar's downward header from crossing the line in the 55th minute. Spain, boosted by Pernia's equaliser soon afterward, took control and won a penalty when substitute Sergio Ramos was held by defender Josip Simunic. However, Pletikosa dived to his left to parry Torres' placed shot and then responded quickly to block from Luis Garcia. Spain, which flies to Germany on Thursday, kicks off the tournament on June 14 against Ukraine. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are also in Group H. Croatia, which finished third in the 1998 World Cup, opens the previous day against defending champion Brazil in Group F. It then plays Australia and Japan. Lineups: Spain: Pepe Reina (Santiago Canizares, 46); Michel Salgado (Sergio Ramos, 46), Carles Puyol, Pablo Ibanez, Mariano Pernia, Xabi Alonso, Joaquin Sanchez (Cesc Fabregas, 74), Xavi Hernandez, Raul Gonzalez (Fernando Torres, 46), David Villa (Andres Iniesta, 63), Jose Antonio Reyes (Luis Garcia, 46). Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa; Jerko Leko, Igor Tudor, Dario Simic (Mario Tokic, 85), Josip Simunic, Marko Babic, Robert Kovac (Luka Modric, 46), Nico Kovac (Jurica Vranjes, 67), Niko Kranjcar (Ivan Leko, 70), Dado Prso (Ivan Bosnjak, 76), Ivan Klasnic (Bosko Balaban, 89). (AP)