Pedro to crown remarkable rise by keeping out Torres

There were eight minutes remaining in Durban on Wednesday when two Spaniards sprang through the threadbare German defence. Fernando Torres sent Pedro Rodriguez clear and ran on in eager support waiting for the return ball that would offer him the simplest of chances to spark his World Cup into belated life. It never came.

Pedro twisted and turned once too often and the chance went begging; Torres remained a frustrated, peripheral figure in a team he has usually graced. The Liverpool striker is now likely to have to resign himself to a supporting role on Sunday to the 22-year-old from Barcelona who had begun this season looking only to establish himself in Barcelona's first team, never mind the national side.

"I made a bad decision. I should have passed it first," admitted Pedro. "It was a shame. These are decisions that happen, you have to make them quickly. But I guess I could have done better in that play."

It was a rare blot on Pedro's sparky performance against Germany as he fully justified Vicente del Bosque's left-field decision to hand the young man a starting role ahead of Torres. "I had no idea and, sure, the decision surprised me a little bit," said Pedro, who only found out a couple of hours before kick-off that he was to start. "But all of my team-mates helped me feel comfortable on the field."

He was not short of familiar faces to ease him into his comfort zone. Around him were six of his Barça team-mates and the practised ease with which he linked with Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Co was simply a matter of picking up where he had left off after a remarkable first year at the Nou Camp.

Two seasons ago he was playing in the Spanish third division for Barça's 'B' team, but after some impressive cameos towards the end of the 2009 campaign he was pushing for a starting role as this one began. A typical Barça player – small, quick, a sharp passer and cool finisher, who is also not afraid of the flamboyant – he soon consigned Thierry Henry to the bench.

What is more, he scored 23 times in all, including the unique statistical gem of finding the net in six different competitions – La Liga, the Kings Cup, the Champions League, the European and Spanish Super Cups and the Club World Cup. On Sunday, he is likely to have a final chance of making it a truly magnificent seven.

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