Apologies for the delayed start. It was my turn to do the dishes and I had to see them through to the end.
When I picked up the game in the 4th minute a Honduran defender was waving an arm in the penalty area and batted the ball slightly. The transgression inspired Torres to wave to the referees but he received no call.
In the 6th minute David Villa rattles the crossbar from 30+ meters. Everything looked promising for Spain. They controlled the pace of the game and pushed the tempo. They carried possession of the ball and seemed to surge forward at will.
Soon after the missed hand ball Spain were on a penalty kick from 35 meters out. The ball curled towards the Honduran goal from Xavi and resulted in a scrum that could have led to another penalty kick but held no call.
No matter, the Spanish continued to press.
A short, brisk corner kick led to a Xavi cross that drifted across both the face of the Honduran goal and the whole Spanish strike line, red shirts encamped it the box. Ramos had the best chance. He reacted late to the ball and muffed a header tap in.
In the 12th minute, David Villa made a decisive run at the edge of the Honduran box, had a good right-footed strike on net and missed high by half a dozen meters.
Soon after the Hondurans flipped the ball around on the counterattack from a nifty bit of midfield play that called Casillas into duty. A bit of a dicely clearance got the job done but failed to calm nerves.
Then: my goodness!
David Villa collected the ball wide left, split 2 defenders with some nifty footwork. He entered the box, dribbled to the middle, dropped low and carved a shot high, beyond the foot of the defender, into the top corner of the net. A sublime bit of talent ending in a lovely goal.
The following kickoff provided only the briefest of respites for the Hondurans.
The Spanish build up again comes through the left and leaves Mendoza 1-on-1 with Villa in open space. Villa dances around him and Mendoza hacks him down. Not a bright outlook for the Hondurans who seem to have had a midmatch revealed.
After such a furious start the game takes on a bit of a quiet tone.
The Hondurans mount a couple of attackes that result in a few collections by Casillas in the box but no serious threats. Suazo as the lone striker looks game but lonely.
In the 22nd minute Spanish possession around the box leads to a cross from Navas to a header chance from Xavi that looks like a tap in if only the short one could have climbed a ladder.
The Spanish continue to try angles, changing sides and working through the right flank more than the left. Arriving at the 30th minute the game has the feel of a scrimmage for Spanish training.
Torres gets in on the action on a pair of chances in the 33rd minute.
First, a lovely cross from Sergio Ramos finds him lightly marked in the box and his header bounces down off the turf and over the net.
Second, a crafty throw in finds Torres with strong position on the edge of the box and the ball. His turn leaves behind the defender, his deke drops another defender and only his shot betrays him -- he skies the ball twice the height of the net.
If the Spanish hope to progress deeply in the tournament surely Torres will have to be better on the finish.
Navas simulates an injury on a challenge and a yellow card is produced. (Aside: does anyone have higher or bigger shorts in the tournament than Navas? Tailoring, please.)
Xavi has a seies of corner and penalty kicks from the right corner and a theatre production breaks out in the box. Tap dancing with cleats and slaps of honor lead to hand waving and no notable results, including no calls.
This is the part of soccer I can leave.
Closing in on the end of the half Honduras make a spirited run down the pitch and go offside. Another Honduran run down the left ends with an attempted cross that strikes Pique in the baby makers and results in the first Honduran corner of the match.
The corner is taken, punched away by Casillas and the half ends, 1 - 0 Spain. They'll only be sorry they didn't score more.
The second half starts with a flyer from the Hondurans -- a 'shot' from over midfield at the net. Hopefully they can manage some more buildup.
And the Hondurans do show some life. They have a good run in the 50th minute with space. They cut smartly to the middle and play a chip into the box that's headed away from Pique.
And that's where it goes badly.
The header sets off the Spanish counterattack. Xavi plays the ball wide right to Navas and keeps running to pull the defense back. Navas plays it back to the middle to David Villa in the space Xavi has left. Villa blasts the ball which takes a slight deflection and find the back of the net. He is some kind of goal poacher.
Less than a minute later Ramos drifts a bomb just past the outstretched arms of the Honduran keeper and the goal post from 30 meters.
Some midfield play results in a few more openings and some more broken play. Pique makes a sliding tackle and gets a boot to the mouth for his trouble, bloodying his lips and requiring a mouthful of gauze to staunch the bleeding.
As he runs with the bloody bit in his mouth his teammates put on a clinical display of tic-tac-toe passing that sees the ball all over the Honduran box but results in a poor cross from a difficult angle on the left.
Navas is taken down just inside the edge of the box by Izaguirre and Villa steps to the spot to slot home his hat trick goal. Except he missed the net. No goal. No hat trick. 2 - 0 Spain still.
This miss seems to set the tone for the remained of the game. The Spanish continue to push forward and with a step more speed than the Honduran defenders. They have the class but they've lost their edge.
Fabregas comes on for Xavi and proceeds to be sent in on a scrambled breakaway. He beats the goaltender but the Honduran defender Mendoza clears the ball at the goal line.
The Honduran goal remains besieged but no goals appear. The chances are rich but the yield is elusive. The Hondurans weather the storm and generate a chance of their own, earning a fee kick from 25 meters out that flies over the net.
Mata comes on for Torres who looks a little dispirited at his withdrawal. The Spanish don't seem to miss a beat in their practice session.
Pique and Puyol hold steady in defense with some occasional forays forward on set pieces. Fabregas is the mini-me to Xavi and this is all without Iniesta in midfield. The triangles of passing tick the ball around between them. The attack builds slowly and steadily and sublimely but without reward.
Arbleloa replaces Ramos who doffs his hair band to the crowd.
"Still that slight concern that they are not scoring as often as they should," says the commentator and he's right.
The goal differential may well determine who sees who in the next round against opponents from Group G, which count both Portugal and Brazil among its prospective advancers.
Sauzo gives way to Palatcios for Honduras in the 83rd minute. It does not seem to change the pace or character of the game.
The next bit of excitement is a 4-on-2 break for Spain that sees David Villa encamped alone to the side of the box, in front of the goal keeper, waiting too long. Mendoza's strong back pressure deflects the ball out for a corner that amounts to nothing.
Then the pace of the game seems to slow to a jog. Spain continue to retain possession, continue to pass the ball as if by magnetism.
But their attacks on goal feel more suited to an all star game or the Harlem Globetrotters than the World Cup. They don't devolve to selfish ball hogging but they do feel more exhibition-oriented than ruthless.
The final whistle sounds and the players retreat to their respective benches, retaining some energy and prospects for another day.