Spain 2-0 France



Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso nets from the penalty spot in the final minute as he scores two on his 100th Spain appearance



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Spain eased past France in the third euro 2012 Quarter-Final thanks to a headed goal from Xabi Alonso who followed it up with a late penalty - on his 100th cap for his country.

Spain were never in any real danger and coasted into the Semi-Finals - to take on Iberian neighbours Portugal - after a poor performance from France who are knocked out. 

The Spanish made one change to their side that edged past Croatia 1-0 to win the group with Torres dropping out and Fabregas coming in, as Spain reverted back to their formation against Italy: a 4-6-0 with no recognised striker on the bench. 

France manager Laurent Blanc made three alterations from a 2-0 defeat to Sweden in their final group game which meant that they finished in second place behind England. Reveillere made his first appearance of the tournament replacing Nasri, with Debuchy moving further forward; Malouda came in for Ben Arfa and Cabaye returned as well for Mexes who was dropped to the bench. 

It took a while to get going as Spain laboured with the ball at their feet, happy to pass it around, getting a feel for the game. Xabi Alonso had a shot in anger that Lloris comfortably held onto. 

The first slip, the first mistake, the first chance, the first goal on 19 minutes, Xabi Alonso heading in. Jordi Alba was too strong for Dubuchy who slipped, and he got to the byline and pulled the ball across the goal where Alonso was waiting to head home unmarked past Lloris. 

On the half hour the French had their first decent chance, testing Real Madrid keeper Casillas. Sergio Ramos fouled Ribery and was cauitoned, but Yohan Cabaye's excellent free kick over the wall, had Casillas tipping it over the bar and asway to safety. He scored a similar goal against Manchester United earlier on in the year. 



Cristiano Ronaldo is now Portugal's leading scorer at Euro finals with 6 goals, equal with Nuno Gomes.


On 37 minutes, Spain nearly doubled their lead, with Iniesta having a crack at goal that Koscielny did well to block and Pique - unmarked - headed the corner over the bar. 

In the secons half, it continued to be all Spain, pressurising the French who look mentally and physically drained. After another neat build-up, a poor clearence from Rami fell to Alonso - on his 100th cap, but his right foot 25 yard shot went wide. 

France started to pressure the Spanis into mistakes, and had a little hint that they could fashion a chance to try and score. Ribery was going to be the main man, and he got a cross in, but Debuchy was off target with a header. 

France made some offensive changes with Menez and Nasri coming off the bench to replace Malouda and Debuchy, whilst Fabregas and Silva were withdrawn for Spain. It made no difference for the French. 

The closest they came was on 70 minutes: M'Vila released Ribery down the left. He got to the byline and pulled it back across the goal but Casillas parried and gathered at the second attempt. 



Spain and France are in the same World Cup Quailfying group for Brazil 2014. 


The Spanish were very comfortable and the French were going out with a whimper. And they were put out of their misery in stoppage time when Spain secured victory. Pedro found an excellent burst of speed to get away from Rami, but was clipped from behind by Reveillere and referee Nicola Rizolli pointed to the spot. Xabi Alonso got his second by easing it to the opposite corner to Lloris's dive to send the holders through to a semi-final against Portugal on Tuesday. 



ANALYSIS:  Spain 2-0 France
Alex Byrom- Deputy Football Editor from Donetsk

"The Champions are through and can anyone stop them; they are beginning to look very very good. They annihalated a very good French side who were left chasing shadows at times. They weren't under any danger really: the defence coped really well, and going forward were an absolute force. Spain and Portugal: an Iberian derby of massive proportions. Portugal are playing well; Spain are playing well. What a cracking semi-final we have in prospect."





Saturday 23rd June                UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                Quarter-Final                  Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Spain 2-0 France                                                KO 7:45pm                     Live on ITV1/HD                 (HT 1-0)

Alonso 19, 90 (pen)





1 Iker Casillas (C)-  6.5/10  Had one important save frpm Cabaye, made a couple of catches but a quiet night. 

17 Alvaro Arbeloa-  7/10  Had a good game - the right back. Got forward at every opportunity and had a good game against Ribery - forcing him inside where he was tackled. 

3 Gerard Pique-  6.5/10  Didn't have the greatest match, didn't read the game to his normal high standards, but dealt with Benzema pretty well.

15 Sergio Ramos-  7.5/10  He has had to turn into a centre-back with Puyol missing- a position he doesn't like that much. Fair play to him he has shown what a very good defender he is. Unlucky to be shown a yellow card for foul on Ribery. 

18 Jordi Alba-  7.5/10  A left-back who loves to bomb forward which he did and to great effect. Outmuscled Debuchy and delivered a peach of a cross for the opening goal.

8 Xavi Hernandez-  8/10  May be getting older, but he oozes class. Finds passes no-one else does, gets into positions no-one else does. Brilliant.

14 Xabi Alonso-  9/10  His passing range is exceptional. Got forward into the box and was rewarded with a goal. A superb header and followed it up with a late penalty to have a fantastic night on his 100th cap. 

16 Sergio Busquets-  6/10  Did little to justify his selection in side once more ahead of more stella names. Sat infront of back four, not doing a great deal, and made only 2 forward passes in the game. 

6 Andres Iniesta-  7.5/10  Quiet throughout but is still a world class player. Played in Alba in lead up to opening goal.

10 Cesc Fabregas-  7.5/10  Couldn't get a chance in first half, tried his best and put in effort but his midfielders couldn't pass it in behind to him. Was caught offside a few times. Did well for the most part with some neat passes and interchanges.

21 David Silva-  6.5/10  Had an off-key game. Passing wasn't as smooth or sharp as recent matches. Can play better. Caught in a bit of limbo when not direct striker. 


Substitutes bench:- 
12 Valdes (GK), 23 Reina (GK), 2 Raul Albiol, 4 Javi Martinez, 5 Juanfran, 10 Fabregas, 20 Cazorla, 22 Jesus Navas, 7 Pedro, 13 Mata, 11 Negredo, 19 Llorente.


Subs used:

Pedro (for Silva- 65 mins)-  3/10  Made a few great runs, and nearly set up Torres late on. Won the late penalty.

Torres (for Fabregas- 67 mins)-  2/10 Was rather disappointing when he came on. Was regularly offside.

Santi Cazorla (for- Iniesta 84 mins)-  0.5/10  No time to do anything to change game for his side offensively, was playing keep-ball in order to wind down the clock. 


Booked:      Ramos (30), 


Sent-off:        None 



1 Hugo Lloris (C)-  6/10  It was one of those days which he will be looking to delete from the memory as quickly as possible; not able to influence the game. Could do nothing about the goals. 

13 Anthony Reveilleire-  5.5/10  Brought into the side to deal with Alba but was more of a hindrance. Out of position for the first goal, leaving Debuchy exposed and made the foul for the penalty. 

4 Adil Rami-  6/10  Was very average at best. Was completely out of position - the line of defence - for the first goal, and let Pedro dance past him for the penalty.

21 Lorent Koscielny-  6.5/10  Did himself justice as the best defender; but that was as good as it got. 

22 Gael Clichy-  6/10  The left-back still looked on top of his game, defending well. Went across the box to block Alonso's header rather than stop and block. Didn't get forward and support Ribery at all. 

2 Mathieu Debuchy-  6/10  Mixed up the passing in first half, good at running at players with the ball although in this game he was supposed to stop Alba getting forward. Had France's best chance when he headed over. Sacrificed for Nasri.

17 Yann M'Vila-  6/10  OSpent 57 minutes defending. Tries - in vain - to win the ball but just couldn't get near the Spain players. One pass released Ribery in the second half.

6 Yohan Canaye-  6.5/10  Hardly had an impact. Neat passes in possesion. Tested Casillas with a curling free kick, although that was as good as it got. 

7 Franck Ribery-  6.5/10  The winger started reasonably slow, and looked very isolated. Didn't track back to mark Arbeloa. Was the main source of crosses and passes. 

10 Karim Benzema-  6.5/10  Held the ball up well, offering himself to colleagues while his strength was causing one or two problems. Always looked a threat when he had the ball - but only in flashes.

15 Florent Malouda-  4/10  A tournament flop. Will fins it hard to get back into ANY team now. Disinterested; slow and idol. Alonso allowed to run unchallenged into the box to head home. Other than a few runs he offered nothing offensively, and was poor in possession. No surprise once again to see him substitutes.


Substitutes bench:- 
16 Mandanda (GK), 23 Carrasso (GK), 13 Reveillere, 3 Evra, 21 Koscielny, 6 Cabaye, 8 Valbuena, 12 Matuidi, 15 Malouda, 19 Martin, 9 Giroud, 14 Menez.


Subs used: 

Menez (for Debuchy- 64 mins)-  1.5/10  The Lille man brought on to make an impact. Nothing- a real waste of a substitute but replaced the tiring legs of Debuchy which was beneficial in that sense. 

Nasri (for Malouda- 64 mins)-  2.5/10  Had some input but couldn't break the Spanish code and was largely uninvolved. 

Giroud (for M'Vila- 79 mins)-  1/10  Didn't have the desired effect. Won a few headers, but no-one picked up the pieces.


Booked:        Cabaye (42), Menez (75)


Sent-off:        None



My Man of the Match:    Xabi Alonso (Spain)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Florent Malouda (France)- Rating 4/10 



Referee: Nicola Rozzoli (Italy)- 6/10
Attendance: 46,145



Match Facts:

Possession: Spain- 53%                    
France- 47%

Shots at goal: Spain- 10                    France- 5

Shots on target: Spain- 5                    France- 1

Shots off target: Spain- 5                    France- 4

Corners: Spain- 7                    France- 3

Fouls: Spain- 6                    France- 12

Offsides: Spain- 8                    France- 4

Assists: Spain- 1 (Jordi Alba)                    France- None






Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque:  "Playing with a true forward gives you more depth but we wanted to have more continuity, to dominate and to have possession of the ball in order to create chances. I don't think this is an unfair outcome because we were in control most of the time.

We are talking about playing with three forwards – Iniesta, Fàbregas and [David] Silva – but we needed the help of the whole team. When we talk about Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets, they are not that defensive – they know how to attack and they are exceptional players. We were really strong on the left with Jordi and Iniesta – that's where the first goal came from. Jordi Alba really played well and Iniesta always makes life very uncomfortable for the opposition defence. He really played well.

In the last phase of the game France didn't have the necessary strength but they still had [Franck] Ribéry and [Karim] Benzema. They did go forward and [Olivier] Giroud and [Samir] Nasri both came on as substitutes. They didn't decide to defend all the time and we played well as a team. We were tired at the end but that's normal. We'll have to get as much rest as we can [before Wednesday's semi-final against Portugal].

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli:  "
You're never happy when you lose a game, you're always disappointed. When you go out of a European Championship you're even more disappointed. We had looked a lot at the Spanish side and we knew they were very good on the left, with Jordi Alba and Iniesta always doubling up. The most frustrating thing is that we conceded [the first goal] on that side. That's what's infuriating; they just had one cross and they scored.

Just like they're very good on the left, we wanted to attack them up our left because we've got Franck Ribéry there and Karim likes to drift left as well. Two or three times we lacked technique when we could have put them in some difficulty. Had we gone in 0-0 at the interval – although Spain had enjoyed most of the ball – we could have caused problems for them.

Would it have been easier against Torres [instead of Fàbregas]? I don't know. Perhaps it would have allowed our central defensive pairing to focus on one player. Maybe we could have played with three centre-halves but we didn't have time to work on this. We tried to stop them on the left, win the ball back and get it to our strikers quicker than we usually do.

This Spanish side are great. We shouldn't have any shame saying they're a better side than us. I have regrets the way we conceded the opener. I think they were afraid of us – especially our forward line. My main regret is that we conceded so early in the game. We're going to analyse everything in detail in the coming days".


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