Paco Alcacer strikes twice as Spain tear through Wales in friendly

Wales 1-4 Spain: The visitors did the damage in the first 29 minutes with Paco Alcácer scoring either side of a Sergio Ramos header 

Tom Williams
Principality Stadium
Thursday 11 October 2018 21:35 BST
Paco Alcacer scored twice on the night
Paco Alcacer scored twice on the night (AFP/Getty)

In many ways, it was like they had never been away. Wales grew wearily accustomed to one-sided defeats when the Principality Stadium last staged their home matches and on their return to the ground after an absence of seven and a half years, they were beaten 4-1 by a Spain team who barely needed to move out of third gear.

The Football Association of Wales got its wish of attracting a larger crowd than could have squeezed into the Cardiff City Stadium, but most of the 50,232 people in attendance came in the hope of seeing a little more resistance from the home side.

Spain did the damage in the first 29 minutes, with Paco Alcácer scoring either side of a Sergio Ramos header to take his tally to nine goals in five matches for club and country since joining Borussia Dortmund on loan from Barcelona.

Marc Bartra added a fourth before Sam Vokes finally gave the home fans something to shout about in the 89th minute, heading in a sumptuous outside-of-the-foot cross from substitute David Brooks.

Ryan Giggs and Luis Enrique on the touchline
Ryan Giggs and Luis Enrique on the touchline (Getty)

Gareth Bale, watching on from the stands in a red tracksuit, remains a doubt for Tuesday’s Nations League game against Ireland in Dublin and Wales manager Ryan Giggs was also left sweating over the fitness of Ethan Ampadu, who hobbled off early in the second half after appearing to hurt his left knee.

Wales skipper Ashley Williams also seems unlikely to appear in the starting XI at the Aviva Stadium, albeit for different reasons, having been hooked at half-time after one of the most uncomfortable experiences of his 81-cap career.

It was a second successive defeat for Wales after last month’s 2-0 defeat by Denmark in the Nations League, the momentum generated by the breezy 4-1 win over Ireland in their opening game dissipating quickly.

Their players were still taking in the novelty of playing beneath the Principality Stadium’s closed roof when they found themselves a goal down in the eighth minute.

It was a frustrating night for Wales in Sunday
It was a frustrating night for Wales in Sunday (Getty Images)

Wayne Hennessey’s punch from Suso’s inswinging cross fell at the feet of José Gayà and his mishit shot was laid off by Saúl Ñiguez for Alcácer to curl the ball into the top-left corner.

Ramos, booed just as lustily as he was at Wembley last month, punished bafflingly lax defending to double the visitors’ lead in the 19th minute. Allowed to drift into the box unmarked behind a daydreaming Williams, he nodded Suso’s free-kick past Hennessey.

More haphazard defending gifted Alcácer his second goal seven minutes later, the 25-year-old volleying home clinically after Harry Wilson inadvertently diverted a high ball straight into his path.

Ampadu headed against a post from a Wilson corner, but Wales were already in damage limitation mode 10 minutes before the interval, Giggs abandoning his 3-4-2-1 system for a sturdier 4-4-1-1.

Sam Vokes earns Wales a late consolation goal
Sam Vokes earns Wales a late consolation goal (Getty)

Chris Gunter, a full-back by trade, moved to centre-back alongside Williams and it was telling that it was the latter rather than the former who made way for James Chester at half-time.

Luis Enrique felt confident enough to withdraw David de Gea, Ramos and Saúl. He would also award a first cap to the Wolves full-back Jonny, who came on for the last half hour.

Spain continued to dominate proceedings in the second half, Suso curling in a left-foot shot that kissed the top of Hennessey’s crossbar.

Half-time substitute Barta duly made it 4-0 with 16 minutes remaining, exploiting yet more inattentive marking to glance in a header from Suso’s corner.

Suso departed having contributed three assists, aping the performance of Sergio Asensio in Spain’s 6-0 drubbing of World Cup finalists Croatia on their previous outing.

To Welsh relief, Spain settled for four goals on this occasion, but Gareth Southgate’s England, who travel to Seville in the Nations League on Monday, have been warned.

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