Spain win again as semis decided
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THE DAY REPLAYED –  Spain and Uruguay confirmed their place in the semi-finals with wins over Nigeria and Tahiti respectively as the group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup ended with no draws for the first time in the competition’s history.

Twenty matches at the tournament have now gone by since the last goalless draw which came in between Iraq and New Zealand in Johannesburg four years ago. However, the game between Uruguay and Tahiti did witness the first red cards of Brazil 2013 as Andres Scotti and Teheivarii Ludivion received their marching orders in the second half.

Spain were steady against Nigeria, relying on a double from Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres’s fifth of the tournament to see him lead the adidas Golden Boot standings. The Chelsea man had only been on the pitch for 1 minute and 41 seconds before scoring with a flying header.  The Super Eagles were profligate with their finishing in Fortaleza, but hope to return to Brazil older and wiser for their experience.

Uruguay’s 8-0 win over Tahiti, the tournament’s second-biggest victory, saw the Oceania champions having conceded 24 goals in the three group games. Yet they have provided one of the most memorable moments thanks to Jonathan Tehau’s goal against Nigeria and made their curtain call in Recife today, draped in Brazilian flags and carrying a banner which read ‘Obrigado Brasil.’

Results
Group B
Nigeria 0-3 Spain (Alba 3’, 88’ Torres 62’)
Uruguay 8-0 Tahiti (Hernandez 2’, 24’, 45+1’, 67’ pen, Perez 27’, Lodeiro 61’, Suarez 82’, 90’)

What it means…
Despite 11 goals being scored in today’s two matches, the standings for Group B did not change at any point during today’s action. La Furia Roja now remain in Fortaleza for a repeat of last year’s UEFA EURO 2012 final against Italy on Thursday, while there will be a repeat of the 1950 FIFA World Cup™ Final in Belo Horizonte 24 hours earlier as Brazil take on Uruguay. Therefore this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup Final will be between a European and a South American team for the first time since 1995 when Denmark defeated Argentina 2-0.

Goal of the day
Jordi Alba (ESP)
This was a simply stunning team goal, finished well by the Spain and Barcelona left-back. The world and European champions began the move in midfield with Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta playing some wonderful one-touch football. The ball was laid off to Alba on the left, who at one stage had four Nigerian defenders around him. He somehow found a way through, before getting some luck when the ball rebounded off Fegor Ogude’s shin and into his path. From there, Alba had just the goalkeeper to beat and he made no mistake with a low finish.

Stat of the day
28 –
Spain have broken the record for the most competitive matches unbeaten in a row which was set by France in 1999. This was also their sixth victory on the run and the 15th consecutive match in which they have scored, with their last blank coming against Portugal in the EURO 2012 semi-finals.

Quote of the day
“This type of game shows the massive difference between professional and amateur football; it’s an abyss!,” Eddy Etaeta, Tahiti coach.

What’s next?...
After two rest days, which gives the semi-finalists a chance to draw breath and Nigeria and Tahiti time to pack their things and head home, the knockout phase begins which involves the reigning, or former FIFA World Cup winners.

Tweet of the day
Right beside me is the best left-back in the world. Well done! @12MarceloV! Always playing well! Congratulations!