Spain book Italy date in semis
Fortaleza (AFP): Spain set up a Confederations Cup semifinal reunion with Euro 2012 final victims Italy after beating Nigeria 3-0 on a steamy...
Fortaleza (AFP): Spain set up a Confederations Cup semifinal reunion with Euro 2012 final victims Italy after beating Nigeria 3-0 on a steamy afternoon here to secure top spot in Group B. Vicente del Bosque's side needed just a point to confirm a place in the last four, but they made doubly sure thanks to a fine brace of goals from Jordi Alba and a 62nd-minute header by substitute Fernando Torres. The world and European champions will now face Italy, who they crushed 4-0 in last year's Euro 2012 final, in the second semifinal in Fortaleza on Thursday, a day after Brazil meet Uruguay in Belo Horizonte. Nigeria were ultimately left to rue last Thursday's damaging 2-1 defeat by Uruguay, having begun their Confederations Cup campaign with a breezy 6-1 thrashing of Tahiti. "We played against a better side, a team who've been together for a long time," said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi. "It's a learning process for us, it's good. We have to continue from where we stopped tonight, and build on that." It was the teams' first meeting since Nigeria beat Spain 3-2 in the group phase of the 1998 World Cup, and if the world champions were out for revenge, they were quick to draw first blood at Estadio Castelao. There were three minutes on the clock when Andres Iniesta sprayed a pass wide to Barcelona team-mate Alba, and the left-back weaved around three challenges before stroking a low shot past Vincent Enyeama. Nigeria looked set for an afternoon of toil amid stifling humidity inside the stadium, but despite losing Kenneth Omeruo to injury in the 11th minute, they took the fight to Spain. Brown Ideye and Joseph Akpala spurned half-chances, while Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes did superbly to tip a snapshot from the recalled Sunday Mba around the post. Despite several slick interchanges, the African champions' composure repeatedly let them down whenever they penetrated the Spanish area, but Spain were not without blame in that department either.