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Euro 2016: Holders Spain and Italy join France in last 16 as Czech Republic score late on to prevent Croatia doing the same

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Euro 2016: Holders Spain and Italy join France in last 16 as Czech Republic score late on to prevent Croatia doing the same

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  • Spain 3-0 Turkey
  • Italy 1-0 Sweden
  • Czech Rep 2-2 Croatia

Spain outclass Turkey to reach last 16

Two-time defending champions Spain finally showed their true potential at Euro 2016 after easily brushing aside Turkey 3-0 in Nice to reach the knockout phase from Group D.

Alvaro Morata scored two goals on the night either side of Nolito’s goal as Spain delivered arguably the best performance from any team so far this edition.

Despite Turkey starting the game with enthusiasm Spain always looked the more dangerous.

The possession percentages started to creep in favour of Vicente Del Bosque’s men and they capped off their increasing dominance by taking the lead on 34 minutes.

Nolito’s cross from the left drifted over defender Mehmet Topal and was met by Alvaro Morata, who rose to the occasion and glanced his header past keeper Volkan Babacan to put Spain in front.

Two minutes later Spain had doubled their lead.

Nolito went from provider to goalscorer.

Mehmet Topal made a hash of Cesc Fabregas’ lobbed cross in and headed the ball into the path of Celta Vigo forward Nolito, who despite slipping managed to bundle in low past a desperate Babacan to cap off a dominant first half from the Spanish.

If Turkey had any hope of pulling themselves back into the game in the second half that was extinguished two minutes after the restart.

Morato got his second on the night whilst making Spain the first team to score three goals in a match at this tournament.

Andres Iniesta split the defence with a stunning through ball, Jordi Alba, with a whiff of offside, then squared it to an unmarked Morata, who from six yards out tapped home to send the Spanish fans into mass celebration.

In typical Spanish style every outfield player touched the ball in their third goal.

Spain appeared to take the foot off the gas in the final third of the match safe in the knowledge Turkey posed no real threat to the end result and their progression to the last 16.

And Turkey didn’t as Del Bosque’s men cruised over the finish line with a convincing victory.

Not pretty, but mission accomplished

Earlier in the day Italy qualified for the knockout phase after beating Sweden 1-0 in Toulouse in their second Group E match.

In a game bereft of quality and chances on goal, Italy finally made the break through two minutes from time courtesy of Brazilian-born Eder.

The win put Italy on six points from their two matches so far, which has guaranteed the 1968 champions safe passage to the last 16.

Sweden dominated possession in a very forgettable first half in Toulouse.

Despite this lion’s share of play Erik Hamrén’s men could still not threaten Gigi Buffon in the Italy goal.

Zatan Ibrahimovic had the best chance of the tie, up to then, on 73 minutes when Martin Olsson whipped in a curling ball from about 30 yards which landed at the feet of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But the star striker fired his shot over the bar from just one yard out leaving the entire Sweden contingent scratching their heads wondering how it did not go in.

It kind of summed up the match which looked to be heading towards only the second goalless draw of the tournament so far following Thursday night’s poor encounter between World Champions Germany and Poland.

At the other end and ten minutes later, a shot was finally registered on target when Italy’s Marco Parolo headed against the bar from about six-yards following a delightful cross from Emanuele Giaccherini.

It was a warning Sweden should have heeded as Antonio Conte’s men in blue were again on the attack on the 88th minute and this time it sealed the deal.

Brazilian-born Eder weaved his way past a static Swedish defence and across the top of the area before unleashing a powerful finish that beat Andreas Isaksson at the far right post.

Once again at these Euros the winner was sealed in the dying moments of the match.

Sweden’s lack of composure in front of goal could now prove extremely costly. They have failed to register a shot on goal from their first two group matches – they beat Rep. Ireland 1-0 in their opener but that came from a Ciaran Clark own goal.

As Italy now look towards the knockout stage Sweden will need to beat Belgium in their final Group E match to have any chance – albeit slim – to qualify.

Italy and Spain join hosts France to become the first teams to make it to the next phase of the competition.

Czech Republic snatch late draw

Tomas Necid scored an injury time penalty to hand Czech Republic a dramatic 2-2 draw with Croatia in Group D.

Croatia deservedly took the lead in St Etienne through Ivan Perisic while Ivan Rakitic doubled that lead in the second half.

Milan Skoda pulled one back for the Czechs with 14 minutes left and just as Croatia thought they’d done enough to secure safe passage to the last 16 Domagoj Vida was penalized for handball two minutes into injury time.

Necid stepped up and coolly secured the share of the spoils against all the odds.

Croatia took command of the game early in the first half keeping Czech Republic’s defence on it’s toes.

Luca Modric continued his enterprising European Championship display while Mario Mandzukic and Rakitic both started the encounter in fine fettle.

The Czech’s were simply outplayed by their more hungry-looking opponents, who were rewarded by a splendid 38th minute goal by Perisic.

The Inter midfielder handed Croatia a well-deserved lead when he darted into the left-hand side of the area, switched to his left foot and then fired low, hard and across Petr Cech into the right corner.

Croatia started the second half like they ended the first, on the attack. Rakitic fired one over the bar to sound the warning bells early as Czech Republic struggled to get back into the game – although they were hardly in it from the start.

Rakitic didn’t waste his next one though, on 59 minutes.

Marcelo Brozovic prodded the ball through to the Barcelona man who beat the off side trap and then coolly chipped the advancing Cech to double Croatia’s lead with his very first goal at a major tournament.

To the surprise of many around the stadium and watching at home, Czech Republic handed themselves a glimmer of hope with 14 minutes remaining when Skoda headed in a delightful Tomas Rosicky cross to pull one back.

Due to a couple of flares being thrown onto the pitch there were nine minutes of added time.

It proved six minutes too much for Croatia.

Three minutes into stoppage time Vida clearly hand-balled following a high ball into the box and Necid made no mistake from the spot to blast his penalty high past Danijel Subasic to snatch the draw.

Player of the day

Croatia captain Darijo Srna returns to play at Euro 2016 just three days after father’s funeral


The day in photos

Euro 2016 day 8

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