It was a David vs Goliath battle as reigning world and european champions took on the smallest nation in the European championship Ireland. Spain on back of a 1-1 draw with Italy last week knew they had to win to keep their hopes alive of qualifying to the next round having seen Croatia earn a valuable draw with Italy which saw the Croatians topping group-C with 4 points.
Ireland on the other hand suffered a defeat to Croatia last week that saw them bottom of the group and knew that another defeat could see them crash out of the tournament after 2 games.
Spain named only 1 change from the XI that started against Italy as Cesc Fabregas was replaced by Chelsea forward Fernando Torres. Hugely criticized for his display against Italy this was Torres’s moment to shine. Ireland on the other hand also made 1 change which saw Simon Cox come in for Kevin Doyle.
The gamed kicked off with early pressure from Spain and an unsettled Irish side could not deal with that pressure as Andres Iniesta’s crisp ball inside the Irish box resulted in Fernando Torres making full use of the sloppy defending by Irish centre back Richard Dunne and score the opener with just 4’ gone in the match. This goal took Torres as the 3rd highest goal scorer in Spain’s history behind Hierro and David Villa. Spain continued to mount attacks on the Irish defense but goal keeper Shay Given pulled of some amazing saves to deny the Spanish and keep the scoreline to 1-0 at Half Time. The 1-0 scoreline gave the Irish fans something to look forward to as they knew they had all to play for in the second half.
Spain kicked off the second half the way they ended the first half with some crisp passing and movements. The passing and movement finally resulted in a goal and surely the one that gave Spain some breathing space. David Silva scorer this time with a very well taken goal slaughtering home the ball past 2 Irish defenders and the goal keeper in the 49’. The game was soon put to bed as highly criticized striker Fernando Torres got his second of the game in the 70’ min after a lovely through ball by David Silva that led Torres free on goal and he calmly placed the ball past the Irish keeper. Torres was soon replaced by Barcelona midfielder Fabregas whom he had replaced in the starting line up. Fabregas quickly made his presence felt as he rifled in a shot past Given to complete a wonderful Spanish performance that made it 4-0 in the 83’. The game ended 4-0 in favor of the Spanish side.
With that win Spain now lead Group C on goal difference with Croatia just behind them. Italy are 3rd in the group with 2 points and the second consecutive defeat saw Ireland crash out of the tournament with 1 game still to go.