THE DAY REPLAYED – Sport comes in all shapes and sizes and while the game between Spain and Tahiti may have been one-sided, the experience of playing in front of 71,806 fans at the Maracana will live with the Oceanians forever. To their credit, Eddy Etaeta’s side played in a positive manner and for a large part of the first half, limited Spain to just a handful of opportunities. They had attitude and effort in abundance, but displayed defensive naïveté; their high line allowing Spain to counter-attack with ease.
La Furia Roja found themselves cast in the unfamiliar role as pantomime villains, with the crowd fully behind the underdogs. Every save of Mikael Roche was loudly cheered and the roof nearly lifted off the famous arena when Fernando Torres clipped the top of the crossbar with his 78th minute penalty. Roche was enjoying playing to the crowd, celebrating as if he had just made the save of the century, but it was Torres who would go on to have the last laugh, scoring his fourth goal a minute later, equalling the tournament’s record.
Meanwhile in Group B’s other game, the experience of Uruguay told against the youth of Nigeria in an even contest. After a bright start by La Celeste, the Super Eagles grew into the game, with only a wonder-strike by Diego Forlan separating the sides. Although the African champions were guilty of making defensive mistakes during the 90 minutes, they showed that their squad is full of talent which is being well-nurtured by coach Stephen Keshi.
What it means…
Uruguay’s victory over Nigeria leaves them well-placed to qualify for the semi-finals, given that their feared forward line of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Forlan will be coming up against the amateurs of Tahiti who have already shipped 16 goals in their two games so far. That means that Nigeria would need to end Spain’s 24-match unbeaten run in Fortaleza, with the Europeans technically need a point to be certain of qualification.
Goal of the day
Diego Forlan (URU)
Prior to this game the Internacional forward had gone 12 games for his country without scoring a goal. Yet in Salvador on the evening that he made his 100th appearance, becoming the first Uruguayan player to achieve that feat, the scene was set for something special. The 34-year-old capped his century with a superb strike. The famous La Celeste forward line of Suarez, Cavani and Forlan combined to devastating effect. The latter allowed the ball to run across his body and struck a left-footed drive past the outstretched hand of Vincent Enyeama into the top corner.
Stat of the day
10 – The world and European champions became the first team in FIFA Confederations Cup history to reach double figures. During the match, Torres also became the only player to record two hat-tricks in the tournament, having scored one against New Zealand in 2009.
Quote of the day
"Tahiti set an example in terms of fair play and went forward whenever they had the opportunity. We didn’t score more goals because they didn’t let us. This game hasn’t damaged football in any way. In some ways it’s made it even stronger.” Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach.
There is a well-earned rest day for the players on Friday before the group action resumes on Saturday in Group A. Brazil and Italy have already booked their place in the semi-finals, but meet in Salvador to determine which team will finish top of the group and potentially avoid world champions Spain. Japan face Mexico in Belo Horizonte to determine which team will miss out on the group’s wooden spoon.
Tweet of the day
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) June 20, 2013