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Spain set up Italy semi with Eagles win


Spain's Jordi Alba. Picture credit: Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Spain's Jordi Alba. Picture credit: Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Spain's Jordi Alba. Picture credit: Natacha Pisarenko / AP

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 semi-finals last night.

Two excellent goals from defender Jordi Alba, one of eight Barcelona players in the starting lineup, 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 by 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 semi-final.

A young and largely experimental Nigeria team, after beating Tahiti 6-1, finished third after defeats by Uruguay and Spain and must now concentrate of 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 said. "When it is as hot as it was today you cannot play like that for 90 minutes and Nigeria had to slow down."

"They were a bit less intense in the second half and we played better."

Meanwhile, Abel Hernandez grabbed four goals as Uruguay's reserves won 8-0 against Tahiti on Sunday, taking the South Americans into a Confederations Cup semi-final with Brazil.

There were also goals from Diego Perez and Nicolas Lodeiro before Luis Suarez grabbed a double to complete the rout in the closing stages.