Alonso brace downs Argentina
Real Madrid midfielder's late penalty earns European champions win
Last Updated: November 14, 2009 10:19pm
Alonso: At the double
Xabi Alonso scored a goal in each half as Spain overcame Argentina 2-1 in an entertaining friendly in Madrid.
Real Madrid midfielder Alonso provided the European champions with a half-time lead before Barcelona star Lionel Messi levelled from the penalty spot on the hour.
However, Alonso proved to be equally adept from 12 yards as he converted from the spot with four minutes to go after Martin Demichelis was penalised for handball.
Spain were simply a cut above their opponents in the first half, although they only had Alonso's goal to show for their dominance and intricate interplay.
A breathtaking early one-touch move warned the Argentinians of the dangers ahead and although the sliding Xavi just failed to cap that attack with a goal, Spain needed just 15 minutes to go ahead.
David Silva skipped past Demichelis inside the area and when his low shot was well saved by Sergio Romero, Alonso pounced on the rebound to slide the ball in.
The sizeable contingent of Argentina fans at the Vicente Calderon stadium had little to get excited about in the first period, especially with Messi - who was facing five of his Barcelona team-mates - being kept very quiet.
Gonzalo Higuain fired just over from the edge of the box following a rapid break, but it was no concern for his Real Madrid club-mate Iker Casillas, who was making his 100th appearance for Spain.
At the other end, Spain continued to threaten and they almost doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when Andres Iniesta was denied by Romero and David Villa's follow-up shot was blocked on the line by Fabricio Coloccini.
Villa claimed the ball had struck Coloccini's hand but the referee waved play on.
Villa then sent a cross-shot just wide of the far post before Argentina fashioned a great chance to equalise.
Fernando Gago's brilliant through ball inside Spain full-back Sergio Ramos set Angel Di Maria clear, but the Benfica youngster's dink over Casillas also cleared the crossbar.
Any change Diego Maradona made at half-time looked to be working as Argentina started the second half on top, closing Spain down quickly and also creating two good opportunities to draw level.
Di Maria just failed to cap a fine move as his volley was saved by Casillas before Higuain fired a low shot just wide of the far post.
It was no real surprise therefore to see Argentina draw level through Messi.
Maxi Rodriguez robbed Raul Albiol of possession near the touchline, and as the Real Madrid man tried to win the ball back inside the area he hauled the Atletico Madrid winger down.
Messi made no mistake from the spot, sending Casillas the wrong way.
Spain were feeling the heat at that point, but Vicente Del Bosque's side rose to the challenge and they should have retaken the lead in the 70th minute when the unmarked Ramos headed Cesc Fabregas' free-kick wide at the far post.
Joan Capdevila was then denied by a superb save from Romero, but just moments later Spain were handed an opportunity to win the game when Demichelis was adjudged to have blocked Alonso's shot with his hand.
With Villa off the pitch, Alonso stepped up for the penalty and buried his kick in the top corner to seal the victory.
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