Spain became the third nation to already book their place in the last-16 of EURO 2016 after storming to maximum points in Group D, so far, after easing past Turkey 3-0 in Nice.
Alvaro Morata’s double and a first-half strike from Nolito saw the Red Fury stroll to back-to-back victories inside the Allianz Riviera – becoming the first nation to score three goals at this summer’s finals in France.
Manager Vicente del Bosque named an unchanged Spanish starting eleven who just about edged out Czech Republic 1-0 in their EURO 2016 opener on Monday – with David De Gea preferred over Iker Casillas in goal, plus Morata was chosen to lead the line.
Meanwhile opposing boss Fatih Terim made one change to the Turkish side that were defeated 1-0 by Croatia last week – with forward Burak Yilmaz replacing Cenk Tosan up front.
But as expected; the Red Fury’s flair and superiority saw Spain dominate possession throughout in Nice, with defender Gerard Pique the first player to come close to opening the scoring.
However the centre-half, who netted the winner against the Czech Republic earlier this week, saw his downward header from a corner bounce over Volkan Babacan’s goal.
Forward Nolito, who is expected to leave La LIga outfit Celta Vigo this summer, then came even closer just before the half-hour mark after cutting inside onto his right foot – but he could only watch the ball sail wide of the far post.
The lively winger had another chance to break the deadlock moments later, but he dragged his effort wide after full-back Juanfran brilliantly picked him out from the right-flank.
Nevertheless; after 34 minutes played inside the Allianz Riviera, Spain did finally score their deserved goal as Juventus striker Morata opened his account in this summer’s European Championships.
It was the ever-present Nolito who lofted a delicate delivery into Turkey’s six-yard area, with Morata springing the offside trap to nod it on into the far corner.
After smashing through Turkey’s seal; the Red Fury then netted a quick-fire second goal, this time Nolito turning goalscorer after bundling home Cesc Fabregas’ chipped through ball.
Centre-half Mehmet Topal couldn’t fully clear the Chelsea midfielder’s delivery, instead just teeing it up for the Celta Vigo ace to bundle the ball home before the interval.
Just as the opening 45 minutes; Spain started the second period how true reigning champions should – bagging an early goal to become the first team to score more than two goals in a EURO 2016 fixture this summer.
The influential Andres Iniesta exquisitely played in Jordi Alba inside Turkey’s 18-yard area with a piercing through ball that the opposing defenders could only admire, despite there being a suspicion of offside, before the left-back unselfishly teed up teammate Morata to complete his brace from close-range after 48 minutes.
Just moments later; the Juve ace could have sealed his hat-trick, but his header was wide of Babacan’s left-hand post.
Cruising with a three-goal cushion; Del Bosque’s men were happy to turn down the match’s intensity a notch, with the Red Fury comfortably knocking the ball about as if it were an exhibition match.
Referee Milorad Mazic soon blew the final whistle as Spain joined hosts France and Group E’s Italy in guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Round of 16 after just two group games, extending Turkey’s wait for an overdue victory over the Red Fury – something they still haven’t achieved since March 1954.
Plus; Del Bosque’s men are now unbeaten in their last 14 games at the European Championship finals – winning eleven and drawing three – the longest run in the history of the competition.
Man of the Match: Alvaro Morata (Spain)
The striker will be continually key to how far the defending champions will go this summer in France – and on tonight’s performance – you wouldn’t rule out Spain being crowned European champions for a third successive time.
The 23-year-old, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League this transfer window, opened his EURO 2016 account with a well taken brace in Nice – firstly neatly heading in Nolito’s lofted through ball, before tucking home Alba’s unselfish assist in the second period.
To be fair; the Juventus forward could have bagged three or four goals tonight, but a brace will do nicely after terrorising the Turkish back four for the majority of the game – until the Red Fury took their foot off the gas late on.
Morata, who becomes the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer after scoring twice in just 14 minutes against Turkey, will be full of confidence as Del Bosque’s men cruise into the last-16 looking to defend their crown come July 10.
Having already qualified for the last-16, Spain take on Group D’s second-placed Croatia in Bordeaux on Tuesday. Meanwhile rock-bottom Turkey go head-to-head with the Czech Republic, who salvaged a last-gasp point against the Blazers earlier on Friday afternoon.