ALVARO Morata scored twice as defending champion Spain cruised to a 3-0 victory over Turkey on Friday in Nice, France, to qualify for the knockout stages of the European Championship.
Spain recorded the largest winning margin of the tournament so far with a second victory that left it top of Group D. Turkey’s second defeat leaves it needing to beat the Czech Republic in its last game to have any hope of qualifying.
After squandering a series of chances in an opening 1-0 win over the Czechs, forwards Morata and Manuel â€œNolitoâ€ Agudo scored goals three minutes apart in the first half to give Spain a decisive 2-0 lead.
â€œWe scored goals, which was something we hadn’t been doing recently, so it was perfect. But we haven’t won anything yet,â€ coach Vicente del Bosque said.
Morata opened the scoring with a header into the top-right corner off a pass over the top by Nolito in the 34th minute, sending the ball past goalkeeper Volkan Babacan from 12 meters.
An error by the Turkey defense set up the second goal as center-back Mehmet Topal failed to clear Cesc Fabregas’ lobbed pass and instead lobbed it into the path of Nolito, who slid the ball in despite slipping as he took the shot.
Spain made it 3-0 three minutes into the second half when Andres Iniesta’s through ball found Jordi Alba, who appeared slightly offside in the box, and the Barcelona left-back squared it for Morata to apply a simple finish.
Czech Republic 2, Croatia 2: The Czech Republic salvaged a draw at Saint-Etienne in a game temporarily suspended when flares were thrown onto the pitch and Croatia fans fought among themselves.
Against the run of play, the Czechs earned their first point of the competition with two late strikes from substitutes â€” the first time at Euro 2016 that a team has come back from two goals down.
Croatia is second behind Spain in Group D with four points, three more than the Czech Republic.
Tomas Necid scored the equalizer from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time after Domagoj Vida was penalized for a handball.
Goals from Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic had given Croatia a well-deserved 2-0 lead before Milan Skoda ensured a nervy finish when he pulled one back in the 76th minute with a powerful header from captain Tomas Rosicky’s perfectly judged cross.
â€œWhat helped most was that we didn’t give up. We didn’t give up on the point and I’m really proud of all the players,â€ Czech Republic Coach Pavel Vrba said. â€œAnd the fans were not only our 12th player, but also our 13th and 14th player today, they pushed us on.â€
Italy 1, Sweden 0: Eder’s late goal gave Italy the victory in Toulouse and a spot in the round of 16 as its defense once again stood tall.
The Brazilian-born striker curled the ball into the bottom right corner in the 88th minute after substitute Simone Zaza headed on a long throw-in from Giorgio Chiellini.
â€œIt was a great goal,â€ Eder said. â€œIt reminds me of my first goal for Italy. It was in the qualifying stages against Bulgaria. I dummied and the ball went in and I’m delighted.
â€œThe small details make a big difference. The fact that that goal came from a throw-in makes me even more pleased.â€
Italy opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over Belgium. Now with six points, it is assured of a spot in the next round no matter what happens in the team’s final Group E match against Ireland on Wednesday in Lille. – Agency