Spain underlined why they are many people's favourites to win this FIFA U-20 World Cup in the thickest of fonts in their Group C crescendo. Julen Lopetegui's side produced a scintillating first-half performance en route to a 5-1 defeat of Australia, which sent them into the Round of 16 with a 100 per cent record and eliminated their outclassed but spirited victims. All Spain's goals came in the first 31 minutes, with three of them from Alvaro Vazquez.
The sun was out in Manizales, and the contest got off to a scorching start. Just one minute was on the clock when Spain burned the deadlock. The Iberians passed the ball around in masterful, patented fashion, before Daniel Pacheco delicately touched it into the path of Sergi Roberto, who struck it into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
Pacheco was also the creator of a sixth-minute second. The Liverpool winger cut inside from the left and played a cerebral reverse pass, which deceived the Australian defenders and put Alvaro Vazquez one-on-one with goalkeeper Mark Birighitti. The Espanyol forward made no mistake, striking it into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
La Roja's cushion was extended on 13 minutes. Sergio Canales sliced open the Australia backline with a gorgeous through-ball, which Vazquez ran on to before rounding Birighitti and tapping home. Three become four on 19 minutes, with Vazquez, unmarked at the back post, completing a rapid treble by heading home a Pacheco corner from close range.
On 25 minutes, Marc Bartra carried the ball unchallenged from his own half to the edge of the Spain box. He had options left and right, but he lost control as he was ready to make the pass.
Despite being 4-0 down, the Australian supporters never stopped singing. On 27 minutes they finally had a goal to celebrate – one that was exclusively indebted to Kerem Bulut. The shaven-headed No9 intercepted a back-pass, cut inside goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco and, under pressure, fired the ball into an empty net from six yards. Inevitably, a huge roar went up from the fans.
The four-goal cushion was restored three minutes later. Vazquez got to the ball before Trent Sainsbury and was tripped in the area. The defender was subsequently yellow-carded; Canales subsequently sent Birighitti the wrong way from the spot to make in 5-1.
The second half, in contrast to the first, began at a slow pace. Terry Antonis brought the game back to life with a thumping strike from distance on 67 minutes, which substitute Alex did well to parry away.
Bulut almost turned a Spain corner into his own net, but the ball went narrowly wide, before Antonis broke through the middle and unleashed a low drive, which was heading for the bottom corner until the outstretched left arm of Alex pushes the ball around the post.
The Europeans had a few speculative shots from distance thereafter, but failed to come close to the game's seventh goal. Tommy Oar almost got it with a superb half-volley into the back of the net in injury time, but the referee's whistle had blown for offside.
One minute later the game – and Australia's run in the competition – ended.