Torres scores 2 as Spain eliminates Ireland
Fernando Torres scored a goal in each half Thursday to give
Spain a 4-0 win over Ireland and eliminate the Irish from the
David Silva and substitute Cesc Fabregas also scored second-half
goals as the defending champions improved to four points in Group
C, the same as co-leader Croatia.
Spain dominated the tempo and scoring opportunities through its
quick combinations, taking 26 shots and putting the team on course
for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Torres, who scored in the Euro 2008 final, put Spain ahead early
after dispossessing Richard Dunne inside the area and scurrying
past Stephen Ward before sending an angled shot over goalkeeper
Shay Given in the fourth minute.
”We wanted to win, to make a better impression than we did
against Italy,” said Torres, who became Spain’s third leading
scorer with 30 goals in 95 appearances. ”The performance of the
team was really good. It was great.” Torres started over Fabregas
as the World Cup champions fielded a traditional striker after the
attack was led by six midfielders against the Italians.
The goal was the start of Spain’s assault on the Irish, who had
started well with Simon Cox forcing Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas
into a tricky save in only the second minute.
”Unfortunately the goal for the second time after three minutes
throws your tactical plan out the window,” said Ireland coach
Giovanni Trapattoni, whose team also conceded early in a 3-1 loss
But Spain’s combination passing got better, leaving Ireland in a
constant chase. Spain midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso
exploited every crack through the middle with pinpoint passes that
were either spoiled by poor finishing, blocked shots or saves.
”For the vast majority of time, we were chasing shadows,”
Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews said.
Silva was a continuous threat inside the area before finally
converting early in the second half. The Manchester City forward
gathered the ball inside the area in the 49th before showing some
patience by rolling a left-footed shot around two defenders and
through Dunne’s legs and out of the reach of Given.
Given still made clutch stops on shots from Andres Iniesta, Xavi
and Alonso, who pushed forward alongside fullbacks Alvaro Arbeloa
and Jordi Alba as Spain looked for goals.
”They are the best side I’ve ever played against and probably
the best side I will ever play against,” Ireland defender Sean St.
While Ireland enjoyed a brief spell of chances in the second
half, with Casillas stretching to save a shot from Robbie Keane in
the 75th, it was Torres who showed his late season turn in form at
Chelsea would continue at Euro 2012. Torres ran on to Silva’s pass
and held off Dunne’s pressure to shoot around Given in the
”That why we put him on, to do what he did today, to score
goals,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. ”It was an exemplary
game for us in many senses. We played a very complete game.
Fabregas, who scored against Italy while playing in an unlikely
attacking role, received Silva’s corner at the near side and sent a
shot off the inside of the far post to complete the rout in the
Ireland will play its final match against Italy, which has two
points and needs of a victory to advance to the quarterfinals.
Spain can advance with a draw against Croatia on Monday.
”To go out looking for a draw would be very dangerous,” Del
Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba,
Alvaro Arbeloa; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Javi Martinez, 65),
Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta (Santi Cazorla, 80), David Silva;
Fernando Torres (Cesc Fabregas, 74).
Ireland: Shay Given; John O’Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St.
Ledger, Stephen Ward; Damien Duff (James McClean, 76) Keith
Andrews, Glenn Whelan (Paul Green, 80), Aiden McGeady; Simon Cox
(Jon , Robbie Keane.
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: