After shock start, little Pedro set for big role in World Cup final
Spain striker Pedro has admitted he was surprised to start Wednesday night’s World Cup semi-final ahead of Fernando Torres, but his display helped his nation reach the World Cup final.
The Liverpool forward was dumped to the bench by coach Vicente Del Bosque after failing to score a single goal in South Africa.
Pedro repaid his manager’s faith by producing an excellent performance as the Euro 2008 winners booked a first final appearance thanks to Carles Puyol’s powerful second-half header.
The 22-year-old is now expected to keep his place for Sunday’s clash with Holland at Soccer City, and this time it won’t come as a shock. “I was a little surprised to start,” said Pedro. “But thankfully I become involved in the match. I am very happy with the way we played and our progression to the final.”
The dimunitive forward showed a sublime touch and irrepressible willing in the game, which continued a breakthrough season for the Barcelona winger.
He scored 22 goals in 33 starts for his club in all competitions and, given he is clearly not over-awed by the big occasion – having netted Barca’s goal in the Champions League semi-final against Inter Milan in the San Siro – he could be an excellent bet, at 7/1, for first scorer in the final.
He could also help his club side to regain the Champions League title they last won in 2009. Barcelona are 3/1 favourites for the cup.
Torres’ surprise demotion will not have done much for his mood at a time when his Liverpool future is the subject of such hot debate. His club are currently 14/1 to win the Premier League.
Strangely enough, he could have got that long-awaited goal last night if Pedro had not been quite so selfish.
As Spain broke in the final minutes had Pedro squared to his more experienced team-mate on the edge of the Germany box, Torres would only have had Manuel Neuer to beat.
Instead, Pedro opted to go on his own and was robbed by lone defender Arne Friedrich. “I was alone and had Torres to my side,” accepted Pedro. “Perhaps I had too much confidence in myself.”
Torres should play some part in the final, though, and remains 5/1 second-favourite to open the scoring against Holland.