David Villa bagged a brace, but Andriy Shevchenko`s Ukraine debutants were furious at some controversial refereeing in their 4-0 defeat to Spain. Even before the dismissal, the Eastern Europeans barely got a shot on goal, according to Football Italia.
Group H kicked off with a head to head clash between the two favourites for the top spot. Spain only qualified via a play-off and had legend Raul on the bench after he failed to recover in time from an injury. Former Milan star Andriy Shevchenko was also not 100 per cent fit, but was able to lead out his country in their first ever World Cup Finals appearance. The £30m Chelsea signing hadn`t started a match since damaging knee ligaments in a clash with Parma`s Fernando Couto on May 7.
Xavi drilled wide, while Volodymyr Yezerski nodded Ruslan Rotan`s free kick over the bar and Shevchenko was halted for a tight offside decision.
The first real danger came after 12 minutes, when Marcos Senna`s dipping long-range strike was fingertipped over the bar. From the resulting corner kick, Xabi Alonso got between defenders for a glancing header to squeeze in at the near post, perhaps with the aid of a deflection.
Spain made it 2-0 soon after, as David Villa of Valencia curled his free kick into the net, but this time it took a very clear touch off the defensive wall to send Oleksander Shovkovsky the wrong way.
The Ukraine failed to really threaten their opponents in the first half, Andriy Husin firing straight at the goalkeeper when he perhaps should`ve tried to feed through for Shevchenko.
Andriy Voronin broke through and saw his shot saved by Iker Casillas, but once again the Ukraine were stopped by an incorrect offside flag. At the other end, Rusol did just enough to hold off Villa in a promising run.
The World Cup debutants made a double substitution at half-time, introducing Andriy Vorobey and Oleg Shelayev. However, they had precious little time to make those changes work, as within 90 seconds of the restart they were down to 10 men and a 3-0 scoreline. The Swiss referee very harshly chose to red card Vladyslav Vashchuk for lightly tugging back Milan target Fernando Torres by his shorts, which did not appear to actually impede the Spaniard as he went on to shoot. Villa converted the penalty to complete his brace.
It was about to be 4-0 soon after, as Luis Garcia waltzed through the entire defence and rolled across for the unmarked Villa, who fired straight at Shovkovsky.
Raul made his comeback for Villa, while Valencia captain David Albelda took over from Xabi Alonso. The Real Madrid veteran`s lifted shot was comfortably saved and Voronin at least kept pushing for the Ukraine with a curling half-volley that skimmed the far post.
Sergei Rebrov was Oleg Blokhin`s final substitution to reform the old Dynamo Kiev partnership with Shevchenko. Senna thought he`d netted Spain`s fourth with a fierce strike from the edge of the area, but play had already been stopped for a foul in the centre.
Rebrov had a good chance for the Eastern Europeans only to blaze well over from nine yards and Voronin`s strike was comfortably gathered. Raul set up Sergio Ramos, but he slipped at the crucial moment. Arsenal`s Cesc Fabregas replaced Liverpool man Luis Garcia for the final stages to become Spain`s youngest ever World Cup player at 19 years and 41 days.
Fernando Torres, who is a prime transfer target for Milan, finally made his mark nine minutes from time. Carles Puyol fought his way up the field and combined with Torres for the Atletico Madrid man`s powerful finish into the bottom near corner of the net.
It still wasn`t over, as Shovkovsky worked hard to prevent Raul and Albelda adding to their tally. Casillas misjudged his rush off the line and nearly allowed Voronin to slot into an empty net, but his defence came to the rescue. Shevchenko ran on to Rebrov`s pass, though was clearly off form after such a long lay-off and fired straight at an opponent.