A masterclass from David Silva ensured that Spain progressed to Euro 2012 with a spotless 100 percent record as they comfortably defeated Scotland 3-1 in Alicante.
The Manchester City midfielder has been in spectacular form for both club and country this season, racking up four goals and nine assists in just 11 games this campaign. Buoyed by his latest accolade, September's Barclays Premier League Player of the Month, the skillful winger once again produced a magical performance to send Scotland crashing out of Euro 2012 as the Czech Republic secured the prized playoff spot.
With Spain having already qualified as runaway group winners, Scotland boss Craig Levein must have been hoping that Spain would take a nonchalant approach to the game but this was not to be the case as Del Bosque's side dominated from the first whistle.
The national manager made six changes to the side which defeated Czech Republic on Friday night with Victor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, Santi Cazorla, Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa entering the fray. The team needed no time at all to gel though as David Silva put them one goal ahead after only six minutes; converting debutant Jordi Alba's cross with a low drive that squirmed under the midriff of Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor. It was just the start that Scotland feared; the challenge of defeating the World and European Champions had been an unlikely one on even terms let alone after being a goal down so early on.
Levein's side looked shell-shocked, seemingly having no response to the countless waves of Spanish attack and they were fortunate to not go further behind when McGregor produced two excellent saves to deny Santi Cazorla and Pedro. Scotland eventually managed to muster their first real opportunity in 34 minutes when Steven Naismith flicked a cross into the path of his captain Darren Fletcher but the Manchester United midfielder was unable to keep his effort on target, and his half-volley flew over the bar.
However, just as Scotland had looked capable of weathering the Spanish storm, David Silva doubled his and Spain's tally for the night with a well-worked goal a minute before half-time. The nifty play-maker picked up the ball on the right hand flank, cutting inside and playing a precise one-two with Pedro before sending a sublime curling effort past McGregor. It was a goal which reflected the confidence of the young Spaniard, a man in form.
Conceding a second goal just before half-time and aware that the Czech Republic were winning, the Scottish players were understandably demoralised as the teams went into the changing rooms at the break. They simply could not cope with the intelligent passing and swift movement of the Spanish.
When play resumed, the game continued to follow the pattern of the first 45 minutes with Spain dictating the game. It took only nine minutes for Spain to put the game beyond any doubt as David Villa secured his milestone 50th goal for his country. A beautiful passing team move ended with Pedro finding Silva on the edge of the box, who drew defenders in, allowing him to unselfishly feed the ball into the path of the onrushing Villa who coolly slotted his shot across the keeper and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. The fans sounded their appreciation and duly gave a standing ovation to Silva on 55 minutes as he was replaced with Barcelona youngster Thiago Alcantara. What a relief it must have been for the Scottish side who had seen Silva torment their side time and time again.
Levein reacted by throwing on another striker in the form of Blackburn Rovers' David Goodwillie and the forward reduced the deficit to two goals from the penalty spot after having only been on the pitch for three minutes. Craig Mackail-Smith reacted quickest to Christophe Berra's knockdown and was subsequently fouled by Victor Valdés. Goodwillie stepped up to take the spot-kick and confidently dispatched it into the top left hand corner, leaving Valdés stranded. It was small consolation for the Scots as chances were few and far in the dying stages although Santi Cazorla nearly capped an impressive performance with a fourth goal but his chipped effort landed on top of McGregor's net.
Scotland could have few complaints about the result and in a post-match interview, Rangers star Steven Naismith described the Spanish side as "unplayable". "They move the ball so quickly, it's hard to track the ball. We could have defended a little better but that's why they're world and European champions."
If Spain continue to churn out the majestic performances they've given over the past few years, they will be heavily tipped to regain their European crown in next summer's tournament.