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Paco treble puts Spain in pole

Spain 4-0 Switzerland
Paco struck a hat-trick as his side all but ensured a semi-final berth that now looks beyond Switzerland.

Paco (right) celebrates with Gerard after scoring the first of his three goals
Paco (right) celebrates with Gerard after scoring the first of his three goals ©Sportsfile

A Paco hat-trick helped Spain to a convincing 4-0 win against Spain that all but ensures Ginés Meléndez's side's progress from UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group A.

Spain have six points from their opening two fixtures and can now only be denied a semi-final berth by an unlikely set of results. For Switzerland, who were backed by a partizan crowd in Vaduz, prospects look bleak after a second successive defeat. Paco, scorer of Spain's winner against France, put his side three up with a trio of instinctive finishes and is now just one effort away from equalling the record for goals in an U17 season − 13. Jorge Ortí put the result beyond doubt eight minutes into the second half.

It was, though, Stjepan Vuleta, Switzerland's top scorer in qualifying but suspended on Tuesday, who was first to offer a glimmer of forward prowess. The lone striker latched onto Joël Geissmann's cute inside pass but found the angle too tight to beat the well-placed Adrián Ortolá.

For all their hustle and bustle without the ball, Switzerland lacked ideas when in possession. Vuleta was isolated and could only watch on as Paco stole in at the near post to flick Gerard's cross impudently past Yanick Brecher on 13 minutes.

Paco's positional instincts once again caught the eye four minutes before half-time, the Valencia CF striker demonstrating another string to his bow when he rose adroitly and glanced José Campaña's whipped cross into the far corner.

Heinz Moser's side had barely had time to take heed of his half-time team talk before finding themselves out of contention. Three minutes had elapsed when Paco drifted inside outsmarted centre-backs Aleksandar Zarkovic and Arlind Ajeti and composed himself to shoot low into the corner.

Alessandro Martinelli soon had two bites at the cherry to get Switzerland back into the game but was snuffed out, first by Ortolá, and then by Edu. A minute later Paco confirmed his status as star of the show, cleverly pulling back Jesé Rodríguez's scooped pass for Ortí to side-foot into the roof of Brecher's net. Spain will be through as group winners if they draw with Portugal on Monday. Switzerland must beat France by five goals and hope Spain also win to have any chance.