Classy Spanish brush aside homeward-bound Ireland thanks to brace from Fernando Torres
Source: Google images
A classy Spanish performance saw them brush aside a sub-par Republic of Ireland side, with four goals from Fernando Torres, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas.
La Roja had the run of the game from start to finish, recording 27 attempts on goal compared with Ireland’s 6 and 78% of possession.
Fernando Torres was introduced into Vincente del Bosque’s side for the first time in the tournament after the Spanish coach chose not to start an out-and-out striker in the side’s previous clash against fellow Group C hopefuls Italy. The much-maligned Chelsea striker silenced many of his critics after opening the scoring 4 minutes in with a powerful finish from inside the penalty area.
Reception for the striker was largely positive, and prompted Match of the Day and former England striker Gary Lineker to comment that Torres was ‘showing that there is no future for football without strikers’.
Manchester City playmaker David Silva also had a good game, despite dwindling performances for his domestic side towards the end of the previous Premier League season. His composed, pinpoint finish just after half time threatened to send the brave Ireland side home early from the tournament, before Torres added his second as he slotted past Irish keeper Shay Given. Cesc Fabregas completed the rout with a powerful half-volley from inside the 6-yard box.
Given did not have the best of games, often caught out of position and arguably at fault for punching the ball to David Silva to allow him to score. Twitter commenter @NickMotown quipped that the keeper had served up ‘the worst punch since that 'Tizer & Cinzano Surprise' I had at a party in Ipswich in 1994.’
The keeper will have felt somewhat let down by an Ireland side that never really got going in the game. Even the talismanic Robbie Keane was largely kept quiet by an efficient Spanish backline, his best chance a lashed shot that came towards the end of the second half. @Colm_ryan bemoaned his side going missing for most of the game, and tweeted that it was ‘ Nice of those other ten blokes to come onto the pitch to watch Shay Given play against the Spanish.’
Ultimately it was an Irish lack of possession that was the most damaging to their performance. Their loss means that they cannot reach the quarter finals of the championships. Spain, on the other hand, go into their final game against Croatia on Monday in the knowledge that a win would be enough to guarantee their progression to the knock-out stages of the tournament.
For some, the result came as no surprise, with a dearth in quality between the two sides plain to see for all onlookers. Steve Brenner concluded that ‘The game was summed up by the fourth goal. Fabregas, of Barcelona, skips past Paul Green, released from Derby County, before scoring.’ One would be hard-pressed to disagree with him, or to conclude that this Spanish side have finally revealed themselves as genuine contenders to retain their European title.
Highlights available via the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18446630