SPAIN cruised to a 3-0 win over Nigeria last night to top their group and set up a Confederations Cup semi-final showdown with Italy – a repeat of last summer’s European Championship final.
Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba scored twice, passing in following a flowing move early on and then rounding Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama with two minutes left. Nigeria caused problems for Spain in between with John Mikel Obi and Sunday Mba going close. But Fernando Torres headed in two minutes after coming on around the hour mark, before Alba sealed it.
The Chelsea striker’s goal took the heat out of the contest, but despite Spain’s superiority, Nigeria were let down again by poor finishing when substitute Gambo Muhammad put +the ball wide with 15 minutes left.
He was set up by the impressive Ahmed Musa, who also created a great opportunity for Brown Ideye but his touch let him down in front of an open goal. Although Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles bow out of the tournament with a solitary victory over Tahiti to finish third in Group B behind Uruguay, there were signs of encouragement for his young side. Had they converted their chances the story of this game might have been different but there was a sense that Spain still had another gear to move into if they needed it.
In the other semi-final, hosts Brazil will face Uruguay, who thrashed Tahiti 8-0 last night in a game which saw both teams finish with ten men.
Abel Hernandez scored a first-half hat-trick and then added another later in the game to take his tally for the match to four. Diego Perez and Lodeiro were also on target before substitute Luis Suarez added a double. Uruguay defender Andres Scotti saw his penalty saved and was then sent off along with Tahiti’s Teheivarii Ludivion.
Meanwhile, a referee has admitted to making a mistake in awarding Italy’s second goal during their 4-2 defeat against Brazil on Saturday. Giorgio Chiellini’s goal was allowed to stand even though referee Ravshan Irmatov appeared to have blown for a penalty in Italy’s favour seconds earlier. Brazil angrily protested the goal, which made the score 3-2 to Brazil and brought Italy back into the match. The Uzbek official later confirmed he had whistled for a penalty, FIFA said. “He admitted he made a mistake with regards to the incident penalty-goal,” FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said. “(It was) a technical mistake, he has also admitted that, once you blow the whistle you have stopped play, you cannot give the advantage.
“He doesn’t want to make excuses, but he explained what the situation was like for him. It was very quick, while he was blowing (for the penalty), out of the corner of his eye, he saw the goal could be scored, (then) the goal was scored. He was thinking quickly and he did not want to give any excuses.”