Euro 2012: Spain 4 Ireland 0
An early Fernando Torres strike sent Spain off on their way to a comfortable win that saw the Iberians lay siege to the Ireland goal for most of the game.
David Silva and Torres added second half strikes before Cesc Fabregas slapped in a late goal to make it a rout.
The Irish weren’t overawed by their illustrious opponents but they were overmatched. The Spaniards pressed Ireland into countless mistakes in their half as well as knitting together numerous passages of intricate play.
Torres leapt on a loose ball in the penalty area, after Richard Dunne had made a superb challenge, inside the first five minutes. The Chelsea striker pushed the ball passed Stephen Ward and fired a bullet strike past a helpless Shay Given into the roof of the net.
David Silva failed to capitalize on a number of opportunities while Given saved shots from Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique, who headed a clear chance wide in the 26th.
Ireland simply had no outlets, making Spain’s strangulating pressure all the more frustrating. Robbie Keane and Stephen Cox rarely got on the ball and on the rare occasion they did receive a clean pass, the pair were set upon by a gang of Spanish defenders.
The Irish did well to hold Spain to just a 1-0 lead at halftime but just three minutes after the restart David Silva gave Spain a two-goal cushion with a neat close range finish.
Iniesta’s drive was parried by Given straight to the feet of Silva who twisted and turned, seemingly taking an age to make a decision before cooly slotting the ball round three Irish defenders with Given unsighted.
Spain continued to be the dominant side, eventually adding a third through Torres who ran onto a Silva throughball and beating Given one-on-one.
All that was left was for Fabregas to take advantage of a sleepy defense and wallop in a late goal from a tight angle.
By Kenny Laurie