EURO 2016

Spain ooze class up front

Morata and Nolito come into their own to hand del Bosque's men a composed victory

GROUP D

Spain 3

Turkey 0

NICE • There was nothing false about Spain's forward line on Friday, when they cruised into the knockout stage of Euro 2016.

The search for a cutting edge from some form of attacking focal point is nothing new and Alvaro Morata excelled with Nolito scampering busily in support.


Spain's forwards Alvaro Morata (No. 7) and Nolito celebrating after delivering an end product commensurate with their control of the ball in their 3-0 win. The holders join France and Italy in the last 16. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ON TO THE NEXT ROUND

We have had our first objective completed to qualify for the next round. We did it with a good performance, controlling the game for 90 minutes and scoring goals which we haven't done recently, so it was perfect.

VICENTE DEL BOSQUE, Spain coach, on his team's progress at Euro 2016.

Spain's sense of balance in the team, with the usual foundation of endless, dizzying, passing triangles embellished with the sharpened lines to goal on top, made for an impressive mix in the 3-0 win.

Turkey, criticised by their manager Fatih Terim for "throwing in the towel", were unable to halt Spain's comfortable procession to the competition's latter stages.

A draw with Croatia in the final Group D game in Bordeaux on Tuesday will be enough for the reigning champions to top their section.

They move on in buoyant mood. Yet to concede a goal and enjoying some sparkling connections up front, they mean business.

"It is not worth anything having a good move and not scoring," mused Spain manager Vicente del Bosque.

"We have had our first objective completed to qualify for the next round. We did it with a good performance, controlling the game for 90 minutes and scoring goals which we haven't done recently, so it was perfect.

"We are on a good path but we haven't won anything. This is just the group stage and there is still a long way to go."

Del Bosque selected the same line-up in successive games for the first time in 52 matches.

Blending new talent to replace some of the departed greats has been the aim but it was no surprise to see Andres Iniesta running the show to allow some of the less experienced players to express themselves.

The new faces in attack relished the opportunity to take over. Morata and Nolito took leading roles and tore into Turkey.

They played with a zest that gave Spain an edge. Their eagerness to take advantage of a Turkey team who struggled for composure shone through.

Spain, who became the first nation to win 100 games covering European Championship qualifiers and Finals, had a passing accuracy rate of 92 per cent and they completed 619 passes with midfield maestros Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets outstanding.

Iniesta, voted Man of the Match for a second straight game, created Spain's third goal when his pass to an unmarked Jordi Alba cut Turkey's defence wide open.

Alba fed the predatory Morata, who fired into an empty net having put Spain ahead in the 34th minute.

Terim was almost satisfied that Turkey, who tried to copy the Czechs by playing deep but lacked discipline and had plenty of holes, clung on for half an hour but then lamented individual errors that invited Spain to do the damage.

It felt as if Spain's class would click sooner or later and, when it did, a chasm opened up between the two sides.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Spain ooze class up front'. Print Edition | Subscribe