Spain 4-0 Republic of Ireland – Match Review
Republic of Ireland crashed out of Euro 2012 after defending champions Spain thumped four past them in Gdansk and boosted their chances of progressing to last eight.
After to losing to Croatia last week Giovani Trapattoni’s men need a win at the PGE Arena to remain in the tournament but had the wind knocked out of their sails before they’d had a chance to settle as Fernando Torres justified his inclusion in the starting eleven with an early goal of world class conviction. Their fate was sealed in the second half after David Silva struck five minutes after the restart before Torres scored his second and substitute Cesc Fabregas rubbed salt into Ireland’s wounds in the 70th minute to send them packing and leave Spain needing to avoid defeat in their final Group C fixture against Croatia to confirm a quarter final place.
The emphasis on the Irish side before kick-off was to retain their discipline and and remain focused during Spain’s long bouts of possession and an early warning shot across the bow from Simon Cox, selected ahead of Kevin Doyle, forced Iker Casillas into a low save suggested they wouldn’t be restricted in their attacking intentions. But once again Ireland were the architects of their own downfall as Torres opened the scoring inside four minutes following some slapstick defending. A sliding challenge from Richard Dunne saw the ball spin free in the penalty area that the Chelsea forward nipped onto, drifted past Stephen Ward and blasted into the top corner past Shay Given from 10-yards for his first competitive goal since September 2010.
From that point on Spain were in control playing much of their football in the Irish half leaving Robbie Keane isolated in attack on the odd occasion when Trapattoni’s men managed to wrestle the ball away from the World Cup winners. In fact La Roja should have gone into the break in a position of greater dominance but couldn’t find a way past Given as the Aston Villa keeper kept out efforts from Silva and Andre Iniesta whilst Torres prodded wide and Gerard Pique failed to capitalise on some careless Ireland defending as they struggled to clear a corner.
The second half followed a similar patter and within five minutes Spain had doubled their advantage. Given weakly punched a Torres shot straight to the feet of Silva and the Manchester City winger did superbly to tiptoe past two Irish bodies and nonchalantly pass the ball into the bottom. Given then made up for his error with a brilliant full stretch save to deny Xavi but could do nothing 20 minutes from time when Silva dinked the ball through for Torres to run on to and finish with a confidence that has been absent from his arsenal for the last 18-months.
Fabregas then came on for Torres and with eight minutes left the Barcelona midfielder made it 4-0 receiving the ball in space from a corner before beating two Ireland defenders and arrowing the ball across Given and into the far corner as Vincente Del Bosque’s side go top of Group C on goal difference ahead of Croatia ahead of their meeting on Monday that will decide who makes it through to the knock-out stage.