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Lllorente steadies Spanish in Madrid
Reigning world and European champions Spain moved to the top of Euro 2012 qualifying group I after easing past Lithuania thanks to three second-half headed goals.

Fernando Llorente, making the most of a rare start in place of the injured Fernando Torres, netted a brace while David Silva added a third late on after Lithuania had earlier struck a surprise equaliser through Darvydas Sernas.

The victory means Spain have now won both of their opening two Euro 2012 qualifiers after previously beating Liechtenstein 4-0 and now boast a two-point lead over Lithuania and Scotland, who they play on Tuesday in Glasgow.

Aside from Torres, Spain were also missing the likes of Xavi, Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabregas, while another of their World Cup-winning squad, midfielder Xabi Alonso, was ruled out in the lead-up to the match through illness.

Without some of their normal first-choice side the Iberian nation, despite dominating, were unable to break down Lithuania in the opening 45 minutes in coach Vicente del Bosque's home town of Salamanca.

Silva twice tested visiting goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas early on before Sergio Ramos saw a looping header from a corner come back off the far post.

Lithuania briefly threatened in the 41st minute when Tomas Danilevicius tested Iker Casillas before Spain went close again just before the break when Llorente saw his header stopped on the line by the diving Karcemarskas.

David Villa then somehow contrived to smash the loose ball against the far post with the whole goal to aim for, but his blushes were partially saved by an offside flag.

Spain need not have worried about their inability to gain a first-half lead though, as just 60 seconds after the restart they got their noses in front through Llorente.

The powerful Athletic Bilbao forward climbed above his marker at the near post to head home Ramos' cross, with Karcemarskas left in no-man's land after coming out in an attempt to claim the ball.

Spain's advantage lasted only seven minutes, though, before Lithuania claimed a shock equaliser.

Sernas was played onside by Carles Puyol and progressed to the edge of the area before drilling a low shot past Casillas for Lithuania's maiden goal in five meetings against the Spanish.

That was not enough to earn Raimondas Zutautas' side anything from the game however, as two minutes later they were trailing again - this time for good.

Llorente was again the scorer, making the most of great work from Santi Cazorla down the right to power home a header at the far post.

Spain pushed for a third goal after that, with Silva, Gerard Pique and Cazorla all being denied by Karcemarskas before Silva wrapped up the scoring 11 minutes from time with another header.

Ramos' cross picked out Silva's run and Manchester City's summer signing sent a glancing header into the far top corner of the net from near the penalty spot.

# Llorente pleased with brace

After the match the Spain striker Fernando Llorente spoke of his delight after his brace helped the reigning world and European champions ease past Lithuania in Santander.

The powerful Athletic Bilbao forward, starting in place of the injured Fernando Torres, scored with two headers at the start of the second half to lead Vicente del Bosque's side to a 3-1 win which sent them two points clear at the top of Group I.

David Silva added a third header late on for the hosts to complete the scoring after Lithuania striker Darvydas Sernas had earlier netted a surprise equaliser for the visitors.

Llorente, whose double took his tally to six goals for his country, was quoted as saying by Spanish media after the match: "I'm very happy, the game was difficult up until the goals, which were very important.

"They (Lithuania) are a team who make things very difficult, but we've done a great job. The coach was right when he said that it would be complicated and now we need to turn our attention to Scotland, which will also be difficult.''

Llorente had ice placed on his ankle after being replaced in the 76th minute, but the 25-year-old said: "It's a blow from the last league match which I've been carrying since then. But I've finished well, tired for the big effort I've put in, but well.''

Spain play Scotland in Glasgow on Tuesday, where they take a two-point lead over the Scots and Lithuania at the top of Group I.
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