Llorente to the rescue for Spain

INNSBRUCK, Austria, May 29 (AFP) - An injury-time goal from substitute Fernando Llorente saved Spain blushes on Saturday with a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Saudi Arabia in a pre-World Cup friendly here.

The Saudis had taken the surprise lead over the European champions when Osama Hawsawi found the net with a header after 16 minutes.

Spain poured into attack with David Villa (30) and Xabi Alonso (58) putting Vicente Del Bosque's side back in control before an Mohammed Al-Sahlawi equaliser looked set to upset a team who are among the World Cup favourites.

Athletic Bilbao striker Llorente, however, found the net two minutes into extra time to give Del Bosque's side a victory in the first of three friendlies ahead of the World Cup finals.

"They (Saudis) played well. We were sluggish in our ball handling. If we'd been more alert we could have won by a bigger margin," said Del Bosque.

Saudi Arabia's Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro added: "They deserved to win. They had more chances and we needed a bit of luck."

Midfielder Xavi Hernandez said that Spain were finding their rhythm two weeks ahead of the World Cup.

"The team felt comfortable together despite conceding two goals," he said. "These games are good to find our rhythm."

Spain had dominated early play with Sergio Ramos heading a corner just wide after 13 minutes.

But the Saudis went straight into attack and got a chance to move ahead when defender Gerard Pique fouled Mishal Al Saeed.

Midfielder Abdoh Autef took the free-kick, but his effort hit the Spain wall. But the Saudis did not have to wait long before taking the lead through Al-Hilal defender Hawsawi.

The shocked Spaniards poured forward with Barcelona's Villa getting the equaliser when he rose to head in an Andres Iniesta cross on the half hour mark.

The Spaniards dominated after the break with Real Madrid's Alonso getting their second after 58 minutes.

But the Saudis did not let down their guard which allowed Al-Sahlawi to break through after 74 minutes.

In the last quarter of an hour, Spain continued to push for the winner, with Llorente, a 70th-minute replacement for Villa, hitting wide in the 83rd minute.

The Saudis finally cracked with Llorente heading in an Alonso's corner to give Spain their 14th consecutive victory.

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