Spain laid further claim to their favourites' tag here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 with a comfortable 4-1 win over African debutants Malawi. The result sends the Europeans through to the round of 16 and ends the talented Africans' Nigerian adventure.
Spain looked lively at the start, pushing forward with pace and precision. After just 15 minutes Alvaro Morata nearly poked home from close range, only for the ball to be batted off the line by an acrobatic clearance. Two minutes later, Sergi Roberto should have had the ball in the net, but a great save from Nangwale Victor kept the scoreboard blank.
The Spaniards' interplay was looking like too much for the hopeful Malawians, and it was only a matter of time before La Rojita opened the scoring. When Morata headed over from close-range in the 21st minute, though, it was a case of five straight gilt-edged chances missed for the Europeans.
Finally, they got their breakthrough in the 32nd minute. Adria Carmona collected the ball out wide on the left and caught Victor cheating with a left-footed shot from a tight angle that snuck inside the post. It should have been two just minutes after the restart, but Javier Espinosa's toe-poke could only slam against the post.
Spain came out from the break still in complete control of possession and pushing forward in search of a second goal. Five minutes in, Carmona rattled the crossbar with a vicious strike from 18 yards. The Malawians were giving their all to get back into the game, but the Spaniards were just too strong. Morata finally made it 2-0, collecting a fine through ball from Roberto and opening his body to curl home with his right foot from a tough angle on the hour mark.
From there, the floodgates opened. First Javier Espinosa scored from 12 yards out with a sliding finish in the 62nd minute. Then, in the 74th minute, Morata added his second of the day after collecting a fine through ball and slotting home from the right side of the area.
Malawi, to their credit, managed to pull back a goal eight minutes from time through Bruno Milanzi, but it was too little too late. The result sees Spain top the section with nine points from their three games. The USA go through in second while the UAE are still alive in third with three points. Malawi's first-ever FIFA finals are now officially over.