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
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?
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.