Spain, With Flourishes, Bounds Into Quarterfinals

Spain, With Flourishes, Bounds Into Quarterfinals

When you think about it, even the own goal was impressive.

Yes, Spain scored fives times in its 5-1 victory against Switzerland on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Yes, the goals had come in all types, a veritable tapas menu of how to put the ball in the net: nifty passing, fancy footwork, opportunistic finishes.

But even the own goal, the one that Spain defender Laia Codina wishes she had back, the one that ensured that Switzerland’s humbling exit from the World Cup was not a shutout, was a looker — a smooth finish in which Codina caught her own goalkeeper out of position and beat her cleanly from near midfield.

It was a self-inflicted wound, but not a deadly one. Spain was back on top six minutes later thanks to Alba Redondo.

Aitana Bonmatí made it 3-1 with some wonderful footwork that left at least two Swiss defenders lying on the grass around her. Codina atoned for her own goal with one into the correct net just before halftime, and Jenni Hermoso pounced on an errant backpass to make it five midway through the second half.

But Spain knew it was over long before that. It will move on, to face the winner of Sunday’s Netherlands-South Africa game in the quarterfinals, the latest step in a reconstruction project that began after the team nearly broke apart in a mutiny against its coach, Jorge Vilda, last year. That project now will continue for at least one more game, and with the players brimming with confidence.

The victory was the team’s first in the knockout rounds of the major tournament. Given how comprehensive it was, it might not be its last in this World Cup.

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