Spain strut their stuff to roast Turkey plus re­ports, news and in­ter­views

Reign­ing cham­pi­ons lay down a marker as Mo­rata brace helps se­cure last-16 spot

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - GIANNI RUSSO

SPAIN might not seem to be the all­con­quer­ing team they once were but don’t rule out them win­ning their third Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in a row af­ter this hugely im­pres­sive per­for­mance which re­minded you of their great­est days.

From the games this tour­na­ment has wit­nessed so far, it is the team of the mil­len­nia who have looked the part more than any other.

Turkey are no mugs and yet they could not get any­where close to Vi­cente del Bosque’s col­lec­tion of Cham­pi­ons League and World Cup win­ners who moved the ball about the park in a ca­sual and yet be­wil­der­ing man­ner which was de­li­cious to watch.

Spain have more gen­uinely world­class play­ers in their start­ing XI than any other team in France. They are also play­ing re­ally well. It does not take a ge­nius to work out that they will take some stop­ping on this ev­i­dence.

They be­came the first side of this tour­na­ment to score three goals in a sin­gle game. The peo­ple of Nice knew they were watch­ing a se­ri­ously good foot­balling out­fit.

To the match it­self and it was a mas­ter­class of one set of play­ers ut­terly dom­i­nat­ing the other. Without re­ally break­ing much of a sweat. That was the galling thing.

It ac­tu­ally didn’t start well. Ser­gio Ramos set a new record even by his in­ter­est­ing stan­dards by get­ting booked within a minute for a foul on Bu­rak Yil­maz who was clean through on goal but too far out for a red card to be a real pos­si­bil­ity. That was Spain’s only low mo­ment.

Turkey, bless them, tried to get the ball down and play some foot­ball in the first half. It was their mis­for­tune that to carry out such an es­timable tac­tic you lit­er­ally need the ball. Spain en­joyed the lion’s share and, you felt, left a lot in the tank.

They passed, moved, passed, moved and then passed the ball again. Without Xavi the ball does not zip about with as much ac­cu­racy; how­ever, they are still great to watch if you are one of those who be­lieve that in foot­ball, such as life, pos­ses­sion is nine tenths of the law then this was a glo­ri­ous dis­play.

Spain’s Al­varo Mo­rata was re­spon­si­ble for the game’s first mo­ment of good foot­ball when, on five min­utes his shot from out­side the box was kept out at his near post by Turk­ish goal­keeper Vol­can Babakan.

Then Ger­ard Pique headed the ball into the ground, an ef­fort which then flew over the bar, from a cor­ner. The Barcelona man had a clear ef­fort at goal and knew he should have done bet­ter.

Nolito, one of the many Span­ish wingers who is ac­tu­ally a mid­fielder, had a de­cent ef­fort on 28 min­utes which flashed wide of goal. But six min­utes later he set-up the game’s opener.

Find­ing him­self in a wide area, Nolito pro­duced a cross into the Turk­ish penalty box which de­fend­ers can do lit­tle about ex­cept pray a striker hasn’t read his team-mate. Mo­rata, how­ever, did just that and glanced the ball into the cor­ner.

And then on 36 min­utes the game was over. Af­ter some pos­ses­sion foot­ball which made you feel sorry for the chas­ing Turks, Cesc Fabre­gas chipped a pass into the penalty area, which Mehmet Topal failed to cut out with a de­spair­ing header, and that man Nolito did enough to send the ball past the help­less Babakan.

It was 3-0 three min­utes af­ter a break and the goal was ridicu­lously good.

An­dres Ini­esta seemed to have a dozen touches in the build-up, his fi­nal one be­ing a per­fect pass to Jordi Alba. He un­selfishly squared to Mo­rata who had a sim­ple tap-in.

Af­ter that, Spain strolled and Turkey hoped that the night would end.

Nolito forced Baba­can into a de­cent save on 68 min­utes and the Turk­ish keeper must have felt it was surely only a mat­ter of time be­fore it got worse.

The fact it didn’t was only be­cause Spain saw no need to ex­ert any ex­tra en­ergy. The job, af­ter all, had been done.

If Spain were to win three Euros in eight years – plus that World Cup – it would surely end all ar­gu­ments to which in­ter­na­tional side is the great­est of all time. Are we about to see a bit of his­tory?

Pic­ture: Getty Images

TURKEY SHOOT: Nolito, who cre­ated Spain’s first for Al­varo Mo­rata and scored his side’s sec­ond ap­plies pres­sure to Gokhan Gonul dur­ing last night’s 3-0 vic­tory in Nice.

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