Spain downs Ivory Coast 3-2

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Substitute Juanito Gutierrez scored an 85th-minute winner and Spain rallied to beat fellow World Cup qualifier Ivory Coast 3-2.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Substitute Juanito Gutierrez scored an 85th-minute winner and Spain rallied to beat fellow World Cup qualifier Ivory Coast 3-2. The win extended coach Luis Aragones' unbeaten record to 19 games. The visitors twice took the lead on goals by Abdul Kader Keita and substitute Bonaventure Kalou in the first match between the two sides. David Villa and substitute Jose Antonio Reyes scored Spain's other goals in the World Cup warm-up match for both sides. "In the first half we began a little weakly and struggled against two very good forwards, Drogba and Arouna (Kone). We improved in the second when Sergio Ramos played better," Aragones said. "Ivory Coast is a very strong team. It should do well in the World Cup. And it's getting better every day," he added. "But against a physically very strong team we dominated the game and created more opportunities. People will have enjoyed the game". Decent result Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel said the result was acceptable. "Without being a great game, we got a decent result. They scored three goals which we could have avoided. But we didn't have our normal defence playing," Michel said. "Spain is a young team which hasn't lost for two years. It's very important for us to play against these good teams to prepare for the World Cup in the best possible way". With Spain hit by a surge of racist taunting of black players during matches, the two sets of players before the game lined up in front of a banner proclaiming "Everyone against racism". Spain, playing its first game since eliminating Slovakia in the World Cup playoffs in November to reach the finals, gave Cesc Fabregas his debut and Arsenal's 18-year-old midfielder responded by producing several incisive passes. However, the Ivorians, which lost on penalties to host Egypt in the final of the African Cup of Nations earlier in the month, scored in the 13th minute when Keita seized on a loose ball after Didier Drogba had headed Kanga Akale's cross from the left. Heading home Spain equalised 10 minutes later after a move down the right involving Cesc and Luis Garcia. The ball fell to Villa and, although his initial shot was parried by goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie, the striker headed the rebound home. Ivory Coast regained its lead when Kalou, who had started the second half as a substitute, struck instantly with a long shot past goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Villarreal's Brazilian-born midfielder Marcos Senna appeared in the 58th minute for his Spanish debut, 15 minutes before Reyes scored the host's second equaliser with a rising right-footed shot. Surging ahead Spain surged forward in search of the winner and substitute Juanito obliged by heading home from Antonio Lopez's corner. Ivory Coast is due to face Argentina, Serbia-Montenegro and Netherlands in Group C, although the president of the country's soccer federation, Jacques Anouma, said the team may pull out if its civil war continues. In the World Cup, Spain plays Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in Group H. Spain has three further friendlies against Russia, Egypt and Croatia before the tournament kicks off on June 9. Lineups: Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol (Michel Salgado, 46) Pablo Ibanez (Juanito Gutierrez, 80), Antonio Lopez, David Albelda (Fernando Morientes, 70), Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso (Marcos Senna, 58), Fernando Torres (Jose Antonio Reyes, 65), David Villa, Luis Garcia (Joaquin Sanchez, 46). Ivory Coast: Jean-Jacques Tizie; Abdoulaye Meite, Cyril Domoraud (Blaise Kouassi, 46), Etienne Boka, Didier Zokora (Emerse Fae, 83), Yaya Toure, Bakary Kante, Kanga Akale (Tchiressoua Guel, 46), Abdul Kader Keita (Bonaventure Kalou, 46), Arouna Kone (Kandia Traore, 74), Didier Drogba. Referee: Pasquale Rodomonti (Italy). (AP)

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