Euro 2016 round up: Spain 3 Turkey 0 - and what the result means

Turkey's forward Burak Yilmaz (centre) heads the ball during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Spain and Turkey at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 17, 2016.
Turkey's forward Burak Yilmaz (centre) heads the ball during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Spain and Turkey at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 17, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

 In bowling parlance, Spain are going for a turkey. A third European Championship title in a row would be an unprecedented feat, but Vicente del Bosque's men have shown that they are now the team to beat.

While there are tougher opponents than Turkey, no other team has looked as convincing so far in Euro 2016. Not France, not Germany.

The pre-tournament doubts over the holders lied in their attack. Spain did little to quiet criticism with a narrow 1-0 win in their opener against the Czech Republic.

The man who took the most blame on Monday was Alvaro Morata. He responded at the Stade de Nice with two goals.

 

The Juventus star put Spain in front with a 34th-minute header, and then passed the ball into the net three minutes into the second half. It was a fitting finish. Every outfield player apart from Gerard Pique touched the ball in the build-up on a night when La Roja put on a passing clinic (670 passes, with a completion rate of 92 per cent).

His brace was sandwiched by a goal from Nolito, who punished Turkey's sorry defence in the 38th minute.

Spain's backline, meanwhile, was untested on Friday. Turkey registered zero shots on target.

Spain have yet to concede in their last 690 minutes at the European Championships, the longest run in the history of the tournament. That streak has seen another gather pace: Spain are unbeaten in their last 14 games in this competition. Again, that is the longest run in the history of the competition.

Keep this up and the record they covet most will be theirs: back-to-back-to-back European champions.

Match highlights

- In the 12th minute, Nolito's delivery from a corner was met by an unmarked Pique. The centre-back headed into the turf and the ball bounced over the bar.

- In the 29th minute, Sergio Busquets sent the ball to Nolito. The forward's curler went just wide.

- Five minutes later, Nolito turned provider. His cross from the left flank was guided into the top corner by Morata.

- In the 38th-minute, it was Nolito's turn to get on the scoresheet. Cesc Fabregas lofted the ball into the box, Mehmet Topal failed to clear his lines and the ball fell into the path of Nolito. The Celta Vigo man scuffed a shot into the bottom corner.

- Three minutes after the restart, Andres Iniesta made a defence-splitting pass, finding Jordi Alba on the left flank. The full-back's cross into the six-yard box was sidefooted home by Morata.

- Morata almost completed a hat-trick after 50 minutes. His header following a diagonal cross from Fabregas went just wide.

- Ten minutes later, Iniestlaid the ball into David Silva's stride. The Manchester City midfielder cut inside and shot just wide of the near post.

- In the 68th minute, substitute Bruno Soriano drilled a low shot from the edge of the box. Turkey stopper Volkan Babacan was equal to it.

The talking point

Who can stop Spain when they are in this sort of mood? The answer is probably no one, at least based on the performances so far in France. Del Bosque's men could easily have had four or five goals on the night, but took their foot off the gas. They did not need to be in top gear to record the biggest win of the tournament.

In the second half, Soriano, Koke, and Cesar Azpilicueta were able to come on for Silva, Fabregas, and Alba. La Roja have the depth, the defence, and the technical ability to go all the way.

Man of the Match

Morata. He showed plenty of composure for both his goals, and was a yard away from completing a treble after 50 minutes. A great response after missing key chances against the Czechs.

What the result means

Spain are the third team to progress to the round of 16 after France and Italy. A draw against Croatia on Tuesday will ensure Spain top Group D. With that, comes a last-16 meeting with a third-placed team from either Group B, E, or F.

Turkey remain bottom dwellers and even a win over the Czech Republic might not be enough for them to prolong their stay in France. They will still have to hope that three points are sufficient to put them among the four best third-placed teams.

Key statistic

Nolito is Spain's 35th different scorer at the Euros, the most in competition history.

What they said

Morata: "I'm very happy about the match we played, very happy about the goals and very happy to be here. I've said many times that I used to watch all of Spain's matches on TV, and now being here and playing with the team is a dream for me."

Iniesta: "As the competition goes on we have to keep growing, do things well and minimise the bad points. We did that today. Against the Czech Republic, it was difficult to have the intensity at the beginning. Tonight things calmed down after the first goal and we managed to have better possession."