They may have won 3-0, but for 90 minutes, Spain hardly broke a sweat. Especially after Jordi Alba gave the tournament favorites the early lead in the third minute. His goal was Spain at their best: fast pace, wonderful movement, slick passing. Alba sprinted for 50 yards to find himself at the top of the penalty box, got a lucky bounce from Kenneth Omeruo's poor tackle, and easily slotted past Vincent Enyeama.
The rest of the match consisted mostly of John Obi Mikel pulling all the strings, providing us with another excellent showing in his usual more advanced midfield role that he plays for Nigeria. Unfortunately for the Super Eagles, Mikel's midfield quality was not mirrored by the attackers. Brown Ideye especially was guilty of wasting numerous chances but he was by no means the only one. By my count, Nigeria missed two open nets.
Playing in second gear, Spain tried to make Nigeria feel better by missing a few chances of their own. Roberto Soldado was unimpressive while Cesc Fabregas hit the goalpost rather hilariously. Fortunately for them, they can call on Fernando Torres. It took Chelsea's Number Nine all of 90 seconds to produce this:
via 101 Great Goals
A real goal against a real team! And what a goal, too! Adding to his four from the last match, Torres now has five goals in the tournament and is in the lead for the Golden Boot. He does love a Golden Boot, that Fernando.
So Nigeria bow out after a decent performance. Missing a few stars, including Victor Moses, these last two matches have shown that they do have the ability to hang with the best of the best. Mikel was impressive and Omeruo had a very good game against Edinson Cavani (unfortunately the young Chelsea prospect did get hurt in the 10th minute today, forcing an early change).
Spain win the group, as expected, and go on to face Italy in Wednesday's semifinal. Should be a good one and Torres may even be in with a shout to start.