Group C
Spain 4-0 Republic of Ireland



Chelsea striker Fernando Torres found his goalscoring touch for the Spanish scoring twice against a wounded Irish team who now leave Euro 2012



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Gdansk


Defending champions Spain produced a master-class in football as they swept aside Republic of Ireland in Gdansk, ending the Green Army's Euro 2012 hopes.  

In the penultimate match of the group stages Ireland already needed a miracle after losing 3-1 to Croatia in their opening match, especially with Spain and Italy to come in their final two fixtures. Two goals from Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, plus finishes from David Silva and substitute Cesc Fabregas condemned Ireland to the horrible truth of the first side to be knocked out of the Euros this year.

Spain made one change from the side that were held 1-1 by Italy at the weekend: Cesc Fabregas was ruled unfit to start so striker Fernando Torres returned to lead the attack. 

As for Ireland, they also made just one alteration: Simon Cox came in for Kevin Doyle as the Irish reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with captain Robbie Keane up front on his own.      



Euro 2012 was the first time ever that the Republic of Ireland had lost two successive games in the group stages of a major tournament.

Spain were in total command, and after a short corner routine had for once failed, it fell to Gerard Pique inside the area who was denied by an fabulous Given save, before the veteran keeper denied Iniesta who had created space for himself - as he always does - on the edge of the box. 

As you may well know by now, Spain would dominate possession but Simon Cox had a decent early chance that was saved by Iker Casillas.

But on four minutes, Ireland shot themselves in the foot again, as like in the Croatia match they conceded an early goal, and it was Torres who got it, his 29th goal for his international. The ball played through was looking for Silva but Dunne cut it out, but couldn't muster a clearance. Torres took it in his stride and slammed it past Given like the Torres of old. After minutes, Spain came forward at will again, as Manchester City's David Silva tested Given- who looked as though he was set for a busy evening.

It seemed as though set pieces again would be Ireland's main goal scoring chance, and Richard Dunne, who hasn't scored for his country since 2009, headed Duff's corner narrowly off target.

Despite their easy domination, Spain, like against Italy weren't clinical enough in front of goal; always finding the defenders or keeper, or trying to find a pass instead. 

Torres again had a chance on 34 minutes. A neat build-up by Xavi and Iniesta found the Chelsea man but again Aston Villa keeper Given thwarted him. 

Spain looked as though they could score at any moment and it was real backs-to-the-wall stuff by the Irish. After Given had produced another stop, both St Ledger and Dunne had to dive in and make blocks to deny Arbeloa and then Iniesta's rebound. 

The Irish couldn't get out of their own half, committing fould just to get a break in play, as it was mentally and physically challenging, but still the World Champions came at them - and Iniesta again tried his luck and Given was equal to it, to end a brilliant half for Spain, and a torrid one for Ireland. It was just a case of how many. 

In an attempt to try and be more of a threat in the attcking third, Simon Cox was taken off at the break, and John Walters came on. But it was the same old story: Spain on the attack, Ireland fighting for their lives. 

Within 4 minutes of the restart - Spain doubled their lead - and the 4th time this campaign that they have conceded within 5 minutes of a half. David Silva got his 5th goal for the World Champions, somehow sliding the ball into the net, despite the fact that he was surrounded by 3 Ireland defenders. Initally, Given had done well to block Iniesta's shot but poor defending let down the Irish again. 



The three teams with the most shots on target at Euro 2012 are all in Group C of the tournament-  Italy, Spain and Croatia.


Wave upon wave of attacks was brutally attacking the Irish goal and Xavi, found excellently by Iniesta, was denied by a stupendous one-handed save by Given. 

On 70 minutes, Torres put the final nail in the coffin, which was to send Ireland packing. It came after some decent pressure by the Republic. Torres was played through by Silva - was onside - as the Republic had been desperately pushing up to try and get back in the game - and Torres finished it off, firing it into the back of the net. 

3 minutes later, and Fabregas was introduced as a sub in place of two goal hero Torres. 

On 74 minutes, Robbie Keane had a good shot that Casillas did well to get down and parry away. 

On 82 minutes, Spain, top scorers in qualfying, plus maintaining a 100% record- one of only two teams to manage this- grabbed a fourth, thanks to substitute Cesc Fabregas. Given had denied Malaga's Santi Carzola, and Ireland were caught napping from the corner, as Silva found the Barcelona man - who scored against Italy - and he curled it into the back of the net. 

As the final whistle rang around the ground, Spain put one foot in the quarter-finals with a comprehensive win, whilst Ireland's fairytale has come to an end in disappointing fashion. 




Thursday 14th June                 UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                   Group C                 PGE Arena, Gdansk

Spain 4-0 Republic of Ireland                                     KO 7:45pm                 Live on ITV1/HD               (HT 1-0)    

Torres 4, 53
Silva 49                                                                                                                                                                                          
Fabregas 83




1. Iker Casillas (C)-  6/10  A couple of saves to make, otherwise a pretty easy night of sitting and watching his team-mates for the Real Madrid shotstopper. 

2. Alvaro Arbeloa-  7/10  Better performance. Tight at the back, dealing with McGeady's threat pretty easily and attacking with poise and vigour down the right.

4. Gerard Pique-  7/10  Easy night as Ireland struggled. Still wayward with passing on occasions and can lose concentration, but good performance.

12. Sergio Ramos-  6.5/10  Well played. Looked far more assured, mainly due to Ireland's ability with a lone striker, but a better individual night for the Real Madrid man.  

5. Jordi Alba-  6.5/10  Decent enough again at the back. Gets forward well but often wastes possession. Had a hand in second goal. 

Sergio Busquets-  6.5/10  Extremely comfortable. Not a lot to do in fairness but went about it with ease and poise. Nice passing.  

7. Xabi Alonso-  7.5/10  Expert range of usual passing. Linked play well and also spread the play well. Had some decent chances. Withdrawn due to being booked. Again ran the midfield.   

8. David Silva-  8.5/10  What a player he has turned out to be. Wonderful player. Poise and grace on the ball and rarely wastes possession and got 2 assists with some fantastic passes. Excellent. 

10. Andres Iniestsa- 8/10  Like Silva he a wlrd class player. No-one can tackle him and he has amazing balance. Denied another hat-trick by a string of fine saves by Given.  

11. Xavi Hernandez- 8/10  Linked play well. A crucial part of the play  as Spain dominate. Delivery was good and always set up chances to score. Some excellent through balls to Torres. Had some excellent chances to score, too. 

9. Fernando Torres-  9/10  Back to his best. Ran with the ball; closed down; harrassed and hurried the defence. And also, two world class finishes. If he continues with that form, it could be a wonderful year for him - and Spain. Outstanding. 


Substitutes bench:-  
12. Valdes (GK), 23. Reina (GK), 2. Raul Albiol, 4. Javi Martinez, 5. Juanfran, 7. Pedro, 9. Torres, 11. Negredo, 13. Mata, 19. Llorente, 20. Santi Cazorla, 22. Jesus Navas. 


Subs used:     

Javi Martinez (for Xabi Alonso 65)-  3.5/10  Exciting young player. Full of poise, promise and pace. Can cause some problems, but sometimes overruns it. Booked.    

Fabregas (for Torres 74)-  5/10  Replaced Torres and immediately was involved. On a par with Xavi and Iniesta in terms of passing. Superb finish for 4th goal. 

Santi Carzola (for Iniesta 79)-  1.5/10  ROne or two nice runs and had a fabulous shot that was unlucky. 


Booked:         Xabi Alonso (53), Javi Martinez (76),



Republic of Ireland:


1 Shay Given-  8/10  Without the Villa keeper in goal, it could have been a record victory margin. Some superb saves and was unlucky with the first 2 goals.

4 John O'Shea-  6.5/10  Looked tired later in the game and didn't get forward a lot when they needed. Couldn't deal with pace and power of Spain's attacks. 

5 Richard Dunne-  7/10  Did well in areas with some decent defending. Could have done better with the first 2 goals.

2 Sean St Ledger-  7/10  Did well to an extent. Didn't make any mistakes and kept position well.

3 Stephen Ward-  6.5/10  Some excellent covering, showing increased changes in speed. Could have got forwaard more to help McGeady, but couodn't really do so. Could have prevented spme of the goals on his side of the pitch. 

11 Damien Duff-  6.5/10   Never stopped running and always wanted the ball. Because Ireland never had the ball, he wasn't really in the game, spending most of the game in defence.

6 Glenn Whelan-  5.5/10  Nowhere near enough quality. Couldn't get close to the Spainish players and couldn't get a tackle in. Too defensive. 

8 Keith Andrews-  7/10  Tried - and worked incredibly hard, but was mentally and physically drained by the end. Strong in the tackle, when he did one. 

7 Aiden McGeady-  5/10  Not his best game - but that's 2 games in a row now. Never wanted the ball, and spent all of his match wandering round. 

20 Simon Cox-  4.5/10  Cannot fault his efforts and work-rate especially in the first half but lacked conviction and quality and was replaced at half time.

10 Robbie Keane (C)-  6.5/10  Never likely to score but kept going and tested Casillas with a low shot late on. 

Substitutes bench:-

16 Westwood (GK), 23 Forde (GK), 12 Kelly, 13 McShane, 18 O'Dea, 15 Gibson, 17 Hunt, 21 Green, 22 McClean, 14 Walters, 19 Long, 20 Cox.


Subs used: 

Walters (for Cox 46)-  3.5/10  Tried to make an impression taking on a couple of shots but firing over in both cases. Worked hard and closed down the ball. 

McClean (for Duff 76)-  3/10  Had no effect on the match at all which is surprising for such a lively player normally. Had a few runs but they were snuffed out. 

Green (for Whelan-  80)-  1.5/10  Didn't do a great deal to change the match for the Irish


Booked:       Keane (35), Whelan (45), St Ledger (84)


Sent-off:       None




My Man of the Match:    Fernando Torres (Spain)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Simon Cox (Ireland)- Rating 4.5/10



Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)- 8.5/10
Attendance: 36,572



Match Facts:

Possession:  Spain- 78%               
Republic of Ireland- 22%

Shots at goal: Spain- 27               Republic of Ireland- 5

Shots on target: Spain-22               Republic of Ireland- 4

Shots off target: Spain- 5               Republic of Ireland- 1

Corners: Spain- 8                     Republic of Ireland- 2

Fouls: Spain- 8               Republic of Ireland- 12 

Offsides: Spain- 5               Republic of Ireland- 2

Assists: Spain- 4 (Silva (2) & Iniesta)               Republic of Ireland- None




Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque:  "A very good performance. Tonight we played to our capabilities, and showed the world that we can win big, and we got a few goals, too. It was very hard, and I fell sorry for Ireland as they showed courage and determination. Now we have to focus for the next game [Croatia] and  make sure we top the group."

Republic of Ireland Manager Giovanni Trappatoni:  "Fear and tension has meant we have made mistakes we don't normally do, and we didn't do in qualifying. I will ask the lads how this is possible, after 2 games, we have conceded a goal in each of the opening 4 minutes of halves. Soemthing has changed from our qualifying campaign."


Click here to read full manager's comments: Spain 4-0 Republic of Ireland

Keith Andrews's Verdict - Click here 

Shay Given: "We were outclassed" - Click here

Kilbane's verdict - Click here


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