Football / World Cup USA '94: Spain set off on the high road

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The Independent Online
Spain. . . . . 3

Hierro 15, Luis Enrique 74, Beguiristain (pen) 86

Switzerland. . 0

Attendance: 53,141

A COMPOSED all-round performance and goals from Fernando Hierro, Luis Enrique and Aitor Beguiristain saw Spain through to the last eight of the World Cup here yesterday against a willing but distinctly second-best Switzerland. Spain now meet the winners of Tuesday's match between Nigeria and Italy.

Whereas the Spanish manager Javier Clemente was able to include Hierro and Rafael Alkorta, both recovered from injury, Roy Hodgson was forced to omit Alain Sutter, Switzerland's most dangerous midfielder. Sutter tested his broken toe in the pre-match warm-up, but was taken off the team sheet at the last minute, his place taken by Thomas Bickel. Clemente left out his experienced striker, Julio Salinas, in favour of Real Madrid's Luis Enrique, and preferred the big Miguel Angel Nadal to the more creative instincts of Josep Guardiola in the sweeper's role.

Switzerland offered the first threat, a cross from Stephane Chapuisat headed over by Adrian Knup at the far post in the second minute. Moments later Luis Enrique raced down the right to beat Yvan Quentin and fall under Alain Geiger's challenge. Hiero drove Jose Maria Bakero's tapped free-kick just wide of the far post.

Nadal's shuddering tackle on Chapuisat on the edge of his own area in the 15th minute provided the prelude to the opening goal. Spain counter-attacked instantly and, while Sergi was running back onside, Hierro slipped through a thicket of defenders to run on and slide the ball past Marco Pascolo. In other games, in other places, Sergi would have been ruled offside, but Spain, and the match, benefited from Fifa's insistence on a more liberal interpretation of the law.

Three Spaniards - Juan Goicoechea, Albert Ferrer and Sergi - were shown yellow cards for ill-timed tackles, while Marc Hottiger was cautioned for throwing the ball away. In between the bookings, Bickel forced Zubizarreta to a diving save with a free-kick powerfully struck with his left foot from the right-hand edge of the area.

Leading the Spanish forwards, Luis Enrique was proving himself a mobile and effective point-man, holding the ball up or laying it off at imaginative angles with accuracy.

Spain began the second half with a swift and lovely move in which Hierro and Luis Enrique set Albert Ferrer free on the right. A perfect cross from the wing-back enabled Juan Goicoechea to take careful aim, but from 10 yards he could only hit the base of the near post.

When Luis Enrique opened up the left side for Sergi to advance, the long cross narrowly evaded Goicoechea at the far post. But on his next raid Sergi chose instead to cut inside, firing with his right foot and forcing a flying save from Pascolo at his near post.

With Jurg Studer on for Quentin after 57 minutes, Switzerland began to see their chance ebbing away. A flood of attacks foundered on the rock of Nadal, although Knup, reacting quickly to Studer's gentle cross, drew a marvellous reaction save from Zubizarreta. Studer was booked a couple of minutes later for a tackle on Ferrer.

Luis Enrique scored Spain's second goal in the 54th minute, side-footing home after yet another powerful run by the inexhaustible Sergi. Their third came from the penalty spot, Beguiristain scoring in the 86th minute after Pascolo had pulled down Ferrer.

SPAIN (1-4-4-1): Zubizarreta (Valencia); Nadal; Ferrer (both Barcelona), Abelardo (Gijon), Alkorta (Real Madrid), Camarasa (Valencia); Hierro (Real Madrid), Goicoechea, Sergi, Bakero (all Barcelona); Luis Enrique (Real Madrid). Substitute: Beguiristain (Barcelona) for Goicoechea, 60; Otero (Valencia) for Hierro, 75.

SWITZERLAND (4-4-2): Pascolo (Servette); Hottiger, Geiger, Quentin, Herr (all Sion); Sforza (Kaiserslautern), Ohrel (Servette), Bregy (Young Boys Berne), Bickel (Grasshopper Zurich); Knup (VfB Stuttgart), Chapuisat (Borussia Dortmund). Substitutes: Studer (FC Zurich) for Quentin, 57; Subiat (Lugano) for Ohrel, 72.

Referee: M van der Ende (Netherlands).

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