Italy and Spain win again to advance in Euro 2016
PARIS >> Italy and Spain secured their second straight victories in the European Championship on Friday to advance to the knockout stages.
The pair join host France, which on Thursday became the first team to make into the round of 16.
Alvaro Morata scored twice as two-time defending champion Spain cruised to a 3-0 victory over Turkey.
"We scored goals, which was something we hadn't been doing recently, so it was perfect. But we haven't won anything yet," coach Vicente del Bosque said.
Spain became the first team in the competition to score three goals in a game. Its victory left it top of Group D with a maximum six points and through to the next round.
Turkey's second-straight defeat hasn't quite ended its chances of progressing but it will most likely need to win its last game against the Czech Republic to stand a chance.
"Today our national team threw in the towel," Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. "I have never accepted this and I will never accept it ... I'm deeply upset."
The other teams in Group D played out perhaps the most dramatic match of the competition so far. The Czech Republic salvaged a 2-2 draw with Croatia in Saint-Etienne in a game temporarily suspended when flares were thrown onto the pitch and Croatia fans fought among themselves.
Against the run of play, the Czechs earned their first point of the competition with two late strikes — the first time at Euro 2016 that a team has come back from two goals down. Following the restart, substitute Tomas Necid scored the equalizer from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time, which had been extended because of the flares.
Croatia coach Ante Cacic suggested his team may have been distracted by the disturbances in the stands.
"My players lost their strengths, they might have been worried to see their relatives in the stands," Cacic said.
However, Cacic was furious at the behavior of the fans, describing those responsible for the incidents as "sports terrorists."
Croatia now has four points in the group after its two matches and is on the verge of qualifying for the second round. The Czech Republic will probably have to win its last game against Turkey to stand a chance of progressing.
Croatia is potentially facing a major fine from UEFA over Friday's incidents. The governing body has confirmed it will open disciplinary procedures.
Turkey also faces a fine from UEFA after its supporters used flares and a smoke bomb in the stadium, and repeatedly threw firecrackers onto the field after the final whistle.
Italy, which was not one of the pre-tournament favorites, left it late to beat Sweden 1-0 through an 88th minute curler from Brazilian-born striker Eder.
"It was a great goal," Eder said.
Now with six points, Italy is assured of a spot in the next round no matter what happens in its final Group E match against Ireland. Sweden, which meets Belgium in its final group game, has one point from its two matches but has yet to have a shot on target — its goal against Ireland in the 1-1 draw earlier this week having been an own goal.
Italy coach Antonio Conte made an impassioned plea to his countrymen to get behind the team.
"It will be great for us to see those waves of blue," he said.
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