Alba special powers Spain

Uruguay feast on Tahiti to set up semifinal clash against Brazil

Alba special powers Spain

World and European champions Spain stayed on course for the title they have never won when they beat African champions Nigeria 3-0 to reach the Confederations Cup semifinals on Sunday.

Two excellent goals from defender Jordi Alba, one of eight Barcelona players in the starting line-up, and a fifth of the tournament from Fernando Torres gave Spain a third successive win and top spot in Group B.

They stretched their unbeaten run in competitive games to 28, going back to their 1-0 defeat to Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup, and have not lost at all since England beat them in a friendly in November 2011.

They will face Italy, who they beat 4-0 to win the European title in Kiev a year ago, at Fortaleza’s Castelao in Thursday’s semifinal.

A young and largely experimental Nigeria team, after beating Tahiti 6-1, finished third after defeats to Uruguay and Spain and must now concentrate on qualifying for the World Cup.

They need a draw against Malawi in September to top their African qualifying group and will then have to play off over two legs with another group winner to earn a return trip to Brazil next year.

Although Spain did not have it all their own way, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was pleased.

“Nigeria were very dangerous in the first half and they played with plenty of dynamism and made it difficult for us,” he told reporters.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi was upset at the way his team lost their discipline after Torres, who had only replaced Roberto Soldado three minutes previously, scored with a diving header to make it 2-0 in the 62nd minute.

Hernandez sparkles

Abel Hernandez grabbed four goals as Uruguay’s reserves won 8-0 against Tahiti on Sunday, taking the South Americans into a Confederations Cup semifinal with Brazil and sending the Pacific islanders home after a third successive drubbing.

It took Uruguay less than two minutes to open the scoring in the Group B game when striker Hernandez rose unmarked to head home from a Nicolas Lodeiro corner.

Hernandez sprinted away from a static defence and volleyed past goalkeeper Gilbert Meriel on 24 minutes to add a second and Diego Perez got a third three minutes later when he was left with an open goal after his own header beat the ’keeper and came back off the post.

Hernandez netted his third and Uruguay’s fourth on the stroke of halftime after he beat the offside trap and slotted home from an angle.

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