WASHINGTON -- The man had just reached his desired destination, but he still was hot and agitated.
No, the subject isn't a father who spent a portion of yesterday stuck on the Bay Bridge with a van full of antsy kids, but Javier Clemente, the coach of the Spanish soccer team.
Even though Spain didn't lose a game in the Group C qualifying, its spotty play came under criticism back home, and Clemente wasn't the least bit appreciative. After Spain tackled and counterattacked its way to a 3-0 victory over Switzerland in a round of 16 game at RFK Stadium yesterday, Clemente went after his detractors as hard as his players jumped on the Swiss.
An interpreter said Clemente was "quite angry because of comments in the Spanish press regarding his team," and the coach took particular offense to the bashing of veteran goalie Andoni Zubizarreta, who was released in May by FC Barcelona (( after it lost in the European Cup final.
"I do not wish to highlight any particular player, but today Zubizarreta was outstanding," Clemente said. "He was the best player on the field. I am hoping the journalists in Spain will conduct a survey tomorrow to see if the Spanish people think whether or not he is, indeed, a good goalkeeper."
Zubizarreta, 32, missed the World Cup opener because of a FIFA suspension, then limited Germany and Bolivia to a goal each. Yesterday's shutout was in jeopardy only three times: Zubizarreta batted aside strong tries by Thomas Bickel in the 12th minute and Adrian Knup in the 66th, and two Switzerland players had excellent chances at the same pass across the goal-mouth in injury time at game's end.
Spain stretched its unbeaten streak against Switzerland to 18 matches and moved into the quarterfinals with the second victory of the day for a Group C team. It will face the Italy-Nigeria winner Saturday at Foxboro, Mass., in quest of its first spot in the World Cup semifinals.
"We must take advantage of going to the quarterfinals and make history," said Juan Andoni Goikoetxea, Spain's superb midfielder.
Goal-scoring remained a problem for Switzerland, which was shut out for the second straight game following a four-goal orgy against Romania.
Switzerland was in its first elimination phase game since 1954, when it blew a 3-0 lead in the quarterfinals and lost to Austria, 7-5, in the highest-scoring World Cup game ever. Its plans unraveled earlier this time, as the broken toe of creative midfielder Alain Sutter didn't respond to an injection of painkiller and he didn't get past the pre-game warm-up. Retiring midfielder Georges Bregy looked every bit of his 36 years, and rising forward Stephane Chapuisat went an hour between touches that menaced Spain.
Chapuisat said the result was a given following the events of the 15th minute, when midfielder Hierro pushed the ball through four converging defenders near midfield, raced it down and sent a 30-yard shot past charging goalkeeper Marco Pascolo for the only goal Spain would need. Switzerland pleaded for offside, since Sergi was five yards behind the last defender when Hierro sent the ball through, but he was judged to not be a part of the play.
Sergi was more directly involved in Spain's next goal, in the 74th minute. Left to right, he carried the ball across the top of the penalty area and passed to Luis Enrique, who had plenty of time to send in a 12-yard shot. Aitor Begiristain's penalty kick in the 86th minute finished Switzerland and Pascolo, after the goalkeeper was forced to manhandle Albert Ferrer following another breakdown by the Swiss defense.
"After we gave up the early goal, we had to push up for the equalizer and put in a third forward, but that meant we were liable for the counterattack," Switzerland coach Roy Hodgson said. "I think the result was a bit deceiving. I didn't think we deserved to lose 3-0."