Spain romps to win over Turkey with vintage display

The defending champion achieved its first objective, which was to avoid a repeat of its dismal first round exit at the last World Cup, as it booked a place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Spain's Alvaro Morata (L) celebrates with Gerard Pique after scoring his side’s third goal during the Euro 2016 Group D match against Turkey.   -  AP

Spain booked its place in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 with an emphatic 3-0 defeat of Turkey in Nice, with Alvaro Morata scoring the first brace of the tournament.

Morata gave Spain the lead late in the first half, rising between Turkey's centre-backs to superbly direct Nolito's pinpoint cross into Volkan Babacan's top left-hand corner. The holder doubled its advantage within three minutes, Nolito turning goalscorer this time, taking advantage of a poor Mehmet Topal header to finish from close range.

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Morata added his second, and Spain's third, shortly after the restart, finishing off a lovely team goal that also involved Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba, with Turkey unable to create clear chances of its own.

Spain's win ensured its 62-year unbeaten run against Turkey continues, with Vicente del Bosque's team hunting its third successive European Championship title. Fatih Terim's men, meanwhile, are facing an early exit from Euro 2016 after losing their opening two matches at the finals without scoring a goal.

Morata retained his place up front for Spain and he forced a good save from Babacan after five minutes, spinning into space and firing a 20-yard drive towards the near post. Spain's goalscorer in the opening 1-0 win against Czech Republic, Gerard Pique, then had a great chance from David Silva's corner but he misjudged his header, the ball bouncing over the crossbar.  

Hakan Calhanoglu whipped a free-kick just over David de Gea's crossbar after 26 minutes, before Nolito collected a pass from Iniesta and curled a shot narrowly wide of the post.

The lively Nolito created the opening goal for Spain after 33 minutes, the Celta Vigo winger finding space to curl in an excellent cross that Morata glanced in.

Spain, which has only ever lost once to Turkey, then scored again almost immediately. Cesc Fabregas clipped a lofted pass over the Turkey defence and Topal could only head the ball up into the air, Nolito reacting sharply to slide the ball beyond a helpless Babacan.

Spain showed no signs of mercy after half-time, becoming the first team at Euro 2016 to score three goals in a game shortly after the interval. Iniesta bisected the Turkish back line with a superb trademark throughball, with the possibly offside Alba unselfishly squaring for Morata to finish neatly through the legs of Babacan.

Morata then planted a header just wide, as he sought to complete his hat-trick, before Burak Yilmaz spurned a fine chance to get Turkey back into the game, shooting wide from a great position.

Spain continued to press, substitute Bruno Soriano forcing a solid stop from Babacan, who also kept out Pique after 68 minutes. The frustration of Turkey's fans was clear, as they began to whistle playmaker Arda Turan, who struggled throughout.

Del Bosque's men eased off in the closing stages, but their dominant performance will send a message to the other pre-tournament favourites that they are more than ready to defend their title again as they head for their Group D closer against Croatia in Bordeaux.

There were more unwanted scenes for UEFA at the final whistle, as Turkey fans set off fireworks in the stands, although the incident was less severe than that from Croatia fans against Czech Republic earlier in the day.

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