Spain strikers find their scoring touch at Euro 2016

AP , Saturday 18 Jun 2016

Spain
Spain's forward Alvaro Morata celebrates after scoring the 1-0 during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Spain and Turkey at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 17, 2016 (AFP)

Spain quickly took care of its lack of scoring touch at the European Championship.

Strikers Alvaro Morata and Manuel ''Nolito'' Agudo finally came through with goals after being criticized for their lackluster play in the opener, leading Spain to a 3-0 victory over Turkey. The result helped the two-time defending champions secure a spot in the tournament's round of 16 with one match left in the group stage.

''We were able to score, which had been a problem,'' Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said. ''It's good to have this confidence in front of the goal, to be able to score goals like this. We were effective. We can't do everything else right and not finish.''

The convincing win was enough to put behind concerns about the offense, which had been the only thing still below expectations for La Roja at the European tournament.

Spain dominated from the start in the first match against Czech Republic, but needed a late header by defender Gerard Pique to earn a 1-0 win after the strikers struggled to find the net.

Morata, who squandered a few good opportunities before being substituted in the first match, scored twice against Turkey on Friday. Nolito, who was replaced late against the Czechs, scored the other goal for Spain in Nice on Friday.

With the 3-0 win, Spain became the first team to score more than two goals in a game in this year's competition.

The strikers needed a good performance to answer critics after being hindered in the opener by a combination of poor finishes and great saves by Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Morata was specially targeted by critics because he had most of the chances in the game in Toulouse. There had been talk about changes in the lineup against Turkey, but Del Bosque stuck with the two forwards.

''They said we couldn't score but we just kept working hard,'' Morata said. ''I'm happy for the goals.''

The Juventus striker scored with a header in the 34th minute and with an easy touch from close range in the 48th after a pass by Jordi Alba inside the area.

Nolito set up Morata's first goal and scored his own three minutes later from inside the area after a ball deflected toward him.

''I'm happy for the goal and for the victory,'' the Celta Vigo forward said. ''This team can score. We are not worried.''

Morata and Nolito are playing in Spain's attack after Del Bosque decided to leave out veteran strikers Diego Costa and Fernando Torres, who had been playing well before the tournament. Del Bosque also picked Aritz Aduriz and youngster Lucas Vazquez for the tournament in France.

The coach's picks had been questioned but the good performance against Turkey should help quiet most critics. And with the defense and the midfield already in great form, more than ever Spain is seen as one of the favorites.

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