Cesc Fabregas, in the spotlight
after an indifferent start to the season with Barcelona, again
proved his worth to Spain when he came off the bench to help
breach a wall of Georgia defenders on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old playmaker replaced full-back Alvaro Arbeloa
in the 81st minute of the Group I World Cup qualifier in Tbilisi
and within five minutes had conjured the crucial assist for
Roberto Soldado's winner in a laboured 1-0 success.
Receiving the ball on the right of the penalty area, he
waited for Soldado to peel away from his marker and struck a low
cross that the Valencia striker turned into the net to finally
end Georgia's stubborn resistance.
It was the latest in a series of decisive interventions for
Spain by the former Arsenal captain, including the pass that set
up Andres Iniesta to score the winning goal in the 2010 World
Cup final and the cross for David Silva to net the opener
against Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
Coach Vicente del Bosque praised Fabregas for his "movement
and intelligence" after the Georgia game, Spain's opener in a
group which also includes France, Belarus and Finland.
Patience had been the key to victory against a side using
the kind of ultra-defensive tactics Spain have become used to in
recent years, he added.
"We had various options to try to break through the
opposition defence... and in the end the gap opened up," Del
Bosque said at a news conference.
"It wasn't about getting nervous but having patience and
playing in the most orthodox way possible because otherwise we
would have exposed ourselves to the counterattack, with the
obvious danger that carries with it."
Fabregas had an impressive start at Barca last season after
returning to his boyhood club but his form tailed off and former
coach Pep Guardiola overlooked him for some key matches in the
Champions League and La Liga.
Under Guardiola's replacement, Tito Vilanova, he has yet to
make much of an impression this term and was an unused
substitute in last month's Spanish Super Cup defeat to arch
rivals Real Madrid.
He fluffed two clear chances in Barca's 1-0 La Liga win at
home to Valencia this month but has a chance to redeem himself
on Saturday when the leaders seek a fourth win in four games at
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