Morata's the answer to Spain's scoring woes
Big man Morata is false striker no more as he allows Spain to walk tall again
(Alvaro Morata 34, 48, Nolito 37)
Hold off on the obituaries. Reports of the death of Euro 2016 have been greatly exaggerated.
Those glorious, shining Spaniards are proving to be this tournament's elixir, bringing back an event that seemed hellbent on its own destruction.
After Croatian fools with flares threatened to ruin the event for good, Spain managed to silence the beasts with a quite beautiful game yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Euro 2016 has suffered too many false starts, so it seems appropriate that its greatest match so far came about thanks to a nation rejecting the false striker.
Alvaro Morata marks a rare departure for Spain, a big man who allowed their pocket dynamos to walk tall.
His double capped an intoxicating 3-0 victory over a Turkish side who trudged off at the final whistle looking like crumpled washing that had gone through a spin cycle.
Standing at 1.90 metres tall, Morata's height and totemic presence not only elevates Spain to serious trophy contenders, but his inclusion also completed his country's evolution at this tournament.
After Euro 2012, Vicente del Bosque's dandies were often all dressed up with nowhere to go.
The tiki-taka had passed its sell-by date. Possession-based football for its own sake, without the penetration or a clear focal point at the apex, proved to be an anti-climatic experience.
What was once brilliant in 2008 was boring by 2012. Apart from the final victory against Italy, the Spaniards occasionally flattered, but no longer deceived.
At times, they were as dull as dishwasher, like watching Picasso doodling effortlessly and endlessly on a canvas without a clear picture taking shape.
By the time the World Cup came around, Spain were predictable and ponderous. Their incomparable skill was still obvious, but so was the template. A false striker often left them with nowhere to go.
They needed fresh ideas. They needed Morata.
He's tall. He's mobile. He's trained in the art of shepherding possession against the limpets in Serie A and he hangs in the air with the balletic grace of Michael Jordan trying to sell a pair of his trainers back in the Nineties.
The 23-year-old appeared a little overawed in the opener against the Czech Republic, spurning chances that the Juventus striker ordinarily buries in Italy. But the plan came together against Turkey.
Morata has filled the gaping hole that infected the Spanish camp like a festering wound at the World Cup.
Most of all, he has rejuvenated Andres Iniesta.
Suddenly, the quiet genius has alternatives, two of them in fact, in the guise of Morata and the scampering late-bloomer Nolito.
Iniesta was unhurried, unflappable but always urgent, as if playing on borrowed time.
Having continued after the retirement of Xavi Hernandez, the Yin to his Yang, Iniesta had struggled to live up to his heady heights. He wasn't disinterested, just detached from the newcomers around him.
But the introduction of Morata and, to a lesser extent, Nolito, has allowed Iniesta to rediscover his mojo. His one-touch football was both fluid and varied, passes long and short found forwards perpetually on the move.
Morata has made Iniesta magical again.
Spain's third goal typified their resurgence. It was not so much a leading contender for goal of the tournament as it was a dream sequence.
Twenty-two passes involved every outfield player except Gerard Pique, but the clincher inevitably came from Iniesta. His vision sliced through Turkey's back four like a parang through a watermelon.
The pass was a self-affirming moment for Euro 2016, a reason to believe in a sport once again bogged down in unhealthy cynicism and mindless violence.
Spain made the world game the simplest game again. It was only about the football. Nothing else mattered.
Morata finished off Iniesta's pass, via a Jordi Alba lay-off, and applauded the architect. The rest of the world applauded Spain.
Euro 2016 needed this performance, an uplifting showcase that more than compensated for the grubby incidents that preceded it.
Morata needed the brace, after a cagey opener against the Czechs. Spain needed the neat combination of Morata and Nolito, with the 29-year-old adding tenacity along their left flank.
And everyone needs a little Iniesta in their lives.
Spain are now into the knockout stages and require only a draw against Croatia to top Group D.
Like their striker, there's nothing false about their trophy aspirations.
Morata improves Spain by his mere presence. His countrymen are doing the same at Euro 2016.
After their successes in 2008 and 2012, the third time really would be a charm.
BY THE NUMBERS
14: Spain are unbeaten in 14 games at the Euros (11 wins 3 draws) and have not conceded a goal in 690 minutes of action.