Ireland have no answer to majestic Spain in Gdansk
Ireland 0-2 Spain
Thursday 14 June 2012
Fernando Torres starred in Spain’s football masterclass in Gdansk, which dumped the Republic of Ireland out of EURO 2012.
The Chelsea striker, much-maligned for his lack of goals last season, was back to his clinical best with one in each half, which helped condemn Ireland to their second defeat of the tournament.
It was hard to stomach for Giovani Trapattoni’s side, who never really recovered from Torres’ fourth-minute opener, but it was difficult not to admire the world and European champions’ dominance.
It was a performance glittering with the famous ‘tike-taka’ football which has brought Barcelona so much success but, in Torres and David Silva - who scored once and set up two others - it was a pair of Premier League imports who did the damage.
In fact, the duo became the first non-Barcelona players to score under manager Vicente Del Bosque at a World Cup or European Finals. But there was still time for Barca's Cesc Fabregas to climb off the bench and slam home a late fourth, making this Ireland’s heaviest defeat under their Italian manager.
His opposite number, Del Bosque, was questioned for playing without a single recognised striker in Spain’s opening Group C game against Italy. But he replaced the goal-scorer from that 1-1 draw, Fabregas, with Torres and he quickly repaid his manager’s faith.
Richard Dunne looked to have averted the danger with a firm challenge on Silva on the edge of the box but there was Torres, picking up the loose ball before lashing his strike past Shay Given.
It would be another test of Ireland’s character, having conceded an early goal in their Euro opener against Croatia, which they eventually lost 3-1.
Trapattoni’s men dug in well but did ride their luck at times before the interval, particularly during a frantic three-minute spell midway through the first half in which Silva, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso all went close.
And in first-half stoppage time, Given was forced to tip a dipping Xavi strike over his crossbar. But the interval did nothing to quell Spain’s dominance, and Given could not prevent Silva making it 2-0 within four minutes of the restart.
Given could only club Iniesta's firm strike into the path of Silva who casually rolled the ball through the legs of both Dunne and Sean St Ledger and into the bottom corner.
In the 70th minute, Silva turned provider, feeding Torres who raced clear of the defence and planted a decisive finish beyond Given.
Silva was at it again eight minutes from time, sliding a short corner to Fabregas, who fired an unstoppable strike home via the far post to complete the scoring.
Spain now join Croatia on four points at the top of Group C, before the two nations’ fixture on Monday, with Italy on two and Ireland on zero.
Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso (Martinez 65), Silva, Torres (Fabregas 73), Iniesta (Cazorla 80).
Subs not used:
Valdes, Albiol, Juanfran, Pedro, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Navas, Reina.
Vicente Del Bosque
Republic of Ireland:
Given, O’Shea, St Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff (McClean 77), Andrews, Whelan (Green 80), McGeady, Cox, (Walters 46) Keane.
Subs not used:
Westwood, Doyle, Kelly, McShane, Gibson, Hunt, O’Dea, Long, Forde.
: Giovanni Trapattoni