Spain destroy Ireland in Euro 2012 show of strength
Spain show why they are reigning world and European champions in 4-0 demolition
HE MIGHT be a busted flush as far as the Blues go, but Fernando Torres was in fine form for Spain last night. The Chelsea striker scored twice for the reigning world and European champions in their 4-0 demolition of Ireland.
The victory not only eliminates the Irish from the knockout stages of the tournament but also hands Spain control of Group C and ensures their match against Croatia on Monday will be one to savour.
Earlier in the day the Croatians drew 1-1 with Italy and they lie level with Spain at the top of the table on four points, though their goal difference is inferior. Italy, who took the lead through Andrea Pirlo’s sublime free-kick, only for Mario Mandžukic to level for Croatia, must win their final group game against Ireland convincingly if they’re to progress to the quarter-finals.
Ireland went into last night’s match in Gdansk as underdogs and within three minutes they were one down to a Spanish side that had reverted to its traditional shape after last week’s experiment of playing six midfielders in the draw against Italy.
Torres picked up the loose ball in the Ireland penalty area and struck a thunderous shot that beat Shay Given all ends up. Though the Irish did well to contain the rampant Spanish for the rest of the half, they cracked four minutes after the break as David Silva fired home from Andrés Iniesta’s parried shot.
Torres made it 3-0 on 70 minutes with the 30th goal of his international career and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas thumped in the fourth to wrap up a miserable night for the Irish. “We wanted to win, to make a better impression than we did against Italy,” said Torres, who is now third on Spain’s list of all-time leading scorers.
Asked if he had been upset when omitted from the starting line-up against Italy, Torres replied: “It was not a disappointment. I know all my team-mates we have here, we are all playing in the best team in the world… the main thing is for Spain to reach the final and win this title again.”
Though Ireland did manage a couple of shots on goal, it was a night when the men in green were given a footballing lesson. “For the vast majority of time, we were chasing shadows,” admitted midfielder Keith Andrews, while defender Sean St. Ledger (who plays for Leicester City)
said: “They are the best side I've ever played against and probably the best side I will ever play against.”
The manner of Spain’s victory sent out a clear message to their rivals and coach Vicente del Bosque didn’t conceal his glee at how his side are shaping up. “We played a very complete game,” he said, adding:
“This is great for the morale of the team and for the optimism we all feel.”