Confederations Cup: Spain sail into semifinals beating Nigeria 3-0
Fortaleza: Spain wrapped up their group stage campaign of the Confederations Cup with ease after recording a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nigeria at the Estadio Castelao Fortaleza on Sunday.
A brilliant solo double from Jordi Alba and a header from substitute Fernando Torres sealed the victory over a disappointing Super Eagles side, who were undone by their own inability to finish the numerous chances that came their way.
Predictably, Vicente del Bosque made a number of changes from the side that dismantled Tahiti 10-0 on Thursday, with Victor Valdes starting in goal and Roberto Soldado preferred to hat-trick heroes Torres and David Villa. Nigeria, meanwhile, made two changes from the line-up that suffered defeat against Uruguay, with Joseph Akpala and Sunday Mba returning for Nnamdi Oduamadi and John Ogu.
Spain settled into their rhythm early on, with Andres Iniesta nutmegging a defender en route to testing Vincent Enyeama with a good effort inside a minute.
The early barrage continued, and Jordi Alba opened the scoring two minutes later in scintillating fashion. Picking up the ball after a neat pass from Iniesta, the Barcelona full-back embarked on a fine run, slaloming past three Nigerian defenders before coolly slotting the ball past Enyeama to put la Roja 1-0 up.
The African champions struggled in the opening exchanges with Cesc Fabregas denied by Enyeama as Spain looked to take control, but at the other end, they too saw a chance go begging, with Sergio Ramos hurriedly thwarting John Obi Mikel after the ball had fallen to him following good work by Joseph Akpala.
Stephen Keshi`s side rallied, and soon began to pose problems for the world and European champions. Set through by Ideye Brown, Sunday Mba produced a stinging effort from distance which required Valdes to divert it away for a corner.
But Spain continued to press in search for a second. First, Ramos` superb long ball picked out Soldado, whose brief hesitation allowed Enyeama to recover, before the Valencia striker`s pin-point delivery off the wing for Fabregas saw the latter strike against the post when he really should have done better.
The profligate finishing continued early into the second half as both sides` search for another goal continued.. Ahmed Musa`s threatening delivery off the right flank picked out Brown in the middle, but somehow, the striker couldn`t connect cleanly with the ball. At the other end, Xavi flashed a free kick narrowly over the bar as Spain looked to kill off proceedings.
And just after the hour, Spain did indeed double their advantage. Torres, who had been only on the field for two minutes, capitalised on some poor defending to power home a header from Pedro`s fine cross.
Nigeria began to tire towards the end of the second period, amidst the typical passing intensity imposed by their opponents, but they once again failed to beat Valdes in the Spain goal when gifted a gilt-edged chance. Another teasing delivery from Musa saw substitute Muhammad Gambo through clean on goal, but he somehow contrived to fire horribly wide of the post.
Alba then wrapped up a fine performance with two minutes to go, latching onto David Silva`s long pass to round Enyeama and into an empty net to seal all three points for Del Bosque`s charges and show his opponents the kind of composure they were missing in front of goal.
Spain top Group B with nine points, and will face Itay in a rematch of last year`s Euro 2012 final in the last four on Thursday in Fortaleza, while Uruguay progress to face Brazil after their 8-0 thrashing of Tahiti.