Spain were unable to
call on the services of Jesus Navas until late 2009 because of
his anxiety about being away from home but since putting that
behind him the electric winger has made a number of vital
Navas came off the bench to score the late winner in the
world and European champions' nervy 1-0 victory over Croatia on
Monday that put them through to the last eight of Euro 2012 as
Group C winners.
A victory for the Croats, who were eliminated, would have
sent holders Spain tumbling out instead and scuppered their bid
to become the first nation to win back-to-back continental
titles with a World Cup in between.
Navas is a classic impact played who enters the fray late in
the game when the opposition defence is tiring and causes havoc
down the right with his pacy, weaving runs.
It was the 26-year-old Andalusian who picked up the ball
deep in the Spain half in the 2010 World Cup final against
Netherlands and his burst of speed up the line set in motion the
move that culminated in Andres Iniesta's winning goal.
Iniesta, who produced yet another man of the match
performance against the Croats, squared the ball for Navas to
put the ball into an empty net on Monday.
"I am very happy and pleased and honestly I am enjoying this
moment a lot," Navas, who made his debut in a friendly against
Argentina in November 2009, told radio station Cadena Ser.
"We knew that we needed to create more danger and inject as
much speed as possible into our attacks because they closed
ranks very well at the back," he added.
"They were very tough to break down but the team kept
pressing and we were able to get forward and score the winner.
"Above all we have confidence in ourselves that we can do
things well and work hard."
Spain will meet the runners-up from a Group D featuring
France, England, Ukraine and eliminated Sweden in Donetsk on
Saturday and coach Vicente del Bosque said he does not mind who
"Any of the three teams we could face is strong and we just
have to prepare the best we can," he told Cadena Ser.
"I don't think that there is any inferior team and we
shouldn't underestimate any of them but we also know it's by no
means impossible for us to get through to the last four."
If Spain reach the semi-finals they will play the winners of
the quarter-final between Portugal and the Czech Republic.
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