Spain took and withstood Haiti’s best shot during Saturday’s friendly, winning 2-1 in front of a spirited crowd of 36,535 at Sun Life Stadium.
The defending World Cup champions flexed their collective muscle early, gaining possession and quickly taking advantage.
An early effort by Fernando Torres sailed a bit, but Spain was able to hit the reset button almost immediately.
Set up by some fine passing, Spanish midfielder Santiago Cazorla dribbled to the back-left corner of the box, firing a left-footed shot that gave Spain an early 1-0 lead at the seventh minute.
In what quickly became a theme, Haiti advanced the ball towards midfield, only to have Spain quickly reestablish possession, allowing the latter to set up its precision-based attack.
This time, at the 18th minute, Cesc Fabergas was on the receiving end of a gorgeous lob pass from Juan Mata, finishing with a header that went past the outstretched arms of Frandy Montrevil, the Haiti goalkeeper.
It looked as if Spain, riding two first-half goals and the insertion of Andres Iniesta into the lineup, would cruise to an easy victory, especially as it continued to dictate the game’s pace early in the second half.
Several well-earned opportunities went for naught, though, either caroming off the goalpost or missing wide. As the match wore on to its late stages, Spain’s defensive pressure started to wane, allowing to Haiti to finally
After gaining control on Spain’s half of the field, Haiti answered — in emphatic fashion.
Donald Guerrier Wilde was able to corral the ball and make a little bit of history. Once he gained control around the edge of box, he darted towards the goal, snaking through a group of Spanish defenders. Then, seeing some daylight near the end line, he was able to finish the play off spectacularly, eliciting a huge roar from the Sun Life Stadium crowd.
Despite the late push, Spain, FIFA’s No. 1-ranked team, was able to hold on.
With this month’s Confederation’s Cup in Brazil looming, Spain will continue its U.S. trip, traveling for another tuneup match with Ireland at Yankee Stadium on June 11.
Through Project Phoenix, Saturday’s match directly supported the Haitian community by not only donating one dollar per ticket sold to help construct a national team stadium in Cité Soleil, Haiti but also develop a surrounding community center. Additionally, 100 percent of proceeds of a specially designed jersey sold at Sun Life Stadium went directly to the development efforts.