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June 14, 2012
• PGE Arena Gdańsk, Gdańsk
Referee: Pedro Proença
• Attendance: 39150
Fernando Torres 4', 70'
David Silva 49'
Republic of Ireland
And that's that for Ireland and their European dream, which leaves their match with Italy as one of only fixture fulfilment. However, for Spain, they go from strength to strength and face Croatia in a Group C decider, with both sides locked on four points! It's been another classic tiqui-taca performance from Del Bosque's troops, but be sure to stay on Goal.com for more breaking news, reports, match reactions and much, much more. I've been Livio Caferoglu and I wish you all a very pleasant evening. Ciao!
90' + 2'
Fabregas looks to set up Martinez for a fifth in the box, but Given comes out to nullify the danger. 30 seconds left here now.
We're in injury time now, with three minutes added on. The Ireland fans continue to do their country proud as they sing their hearts out and have been a huge credit in Poland. They've successfully sounded out the Spaniards! Moving...
"It is a harsh, brutal beating being meted out to the Irish but Spain have been adept at taking their chances. Ireland as a country has been kicked in the teeth in recent years and there is no escape from the harsh realities of life in a sporting sense either. No hope." - Wow.. powerful stuff from our man tonight!
For Peter Staunton, it's been a nightmare from start to finish, as he so bluntly puts it in his latest update for us: "Ireland go 4-0 down now as Cesc Fabregas scores off the near post from a corner. Again, another basic goal to give away. Ireland's defensive discipline, their very lifeblood, has deserted them tonight and they are staring down the barrel of their heaviest defeat of the Trapattoni era."
Five minutes left here. Here's Ashish with some brief respite: "Not one person even bothers to get off the Spanish bench to celebrate. They must be exhausted and here's a thought. Cesc has scored as many goals as Torres so far and the latter may by now have played more minutes than Cesc.. who says this idea of a 'false nine' is a lame one now?"
Yellow Card Sean St Ledger
Assist David Silva
Goal Cesc Fàbregas
WHAT A STRIKE!! Fabregas inflicts a hammer blow on the Irish with an absolute rocket that clips the post and in from the corner. It's from close range to be fair, but the power of the shot was vivid. 4-0 Spain, it's all over now!
Given does well to read Cazorla's strike from the edge of the box and parry the ball away - his first touch of the game! Corner to Spain.
Now, what can Santi Cazorla conjure up for the Spaniards? Not a bad deputy to have on the bench... Nothing really happening here, a quiet past few minutes as Spain freely play the ball around.
Andrés Iniesta Luján
He adds: "3-0, thanks to Torres. Sean St Ledger and Aiden McGeady created a problem in midfield and one slipped pass to Torres saw the Chelsea man bear down on goal. The third goal was borne with a stoic dignity from the Irish fans. You know when you're beaten."
Peter Staunton hits back with the harsh realities of tonight's Irish showing: "Another nail in the Irish coffin. An utterly, dismal, dreadful night for Ireland. They have been outclassed tonight but again been ruthlessly punished for their mistakes."
Fans' favourite McClean finally makes his long-awaited bow at Euro 2012 for Duff, who is now a cap away from reaching a century of Ireland appearances!
Yellow Card Javi Martínez
OOOH THAT WAS CLOSE!!! Keane finds himself in the box through on goal and forces Casillas into diving to his left to brush the ball away.. Only now they're showing adventure, how frustrating for us purists!
And that's Torres done for the night, a fantastic show of faith in his ability by Del Bosque, and an equally fantastic performance to prove his coach right. Now for the 'false nine' Fabregas to replace him in these closing stages...
Goal Fernando Torres
HE'S BACK!!!!!!!! And sends Ireland home at the same time, what a performance from the big man! Yet again, possession is lost cheaply in the middle as Silva slips through Torres who runs well clear of his marker, sets up a one-on-one with Given and powers a finish into the bottom corner!! Irish fans are absolutely devastated.
Assist David Silva
Incredible. Spain AGAIN defend the set-piece with a high line and counter once more via Iniesta! Still, he does not get enough support and the move breaks down.
And an even better last-gasp challenge from Dunne! Erstwhile, McGeady is involved again - this time he's felled by Silva. Free kick for Ireland.
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT IRELAND! McGeady examines Martinez down the flank and whips a tantalising ball into the box which requires a header away! The corner, sadly for them, results in a Spanish break.....
Oh Andrews... what a glorious opportunity for Irish standards as McGeady cuts inside, sees his shot deflected into the midfielder's path, but rather than aiming a strike at goal, he tries to slip a ball into the box which is aptly cleared. Dear oh dear!
Silva finds himself in an advanced position in the box, but his cut-back is hacked away for a corner. The set-piece is then pinged about amidst a melee, as Torres lays off for Busquets, who shoots wide of goal.
Casillas gets a rare touch to the ball as the Irish, lead by McGeady, show an intent with the ball at feet - a rare sight in this game it must be said.
Spain's full-backs have been magnificent. After their uncertain displays against Italy last week, both Alba and Arbeloa have made a triumphant return to form tonight. Ward and O'Shea, meanwhile, endure a night to forget.
Torres can't believe it as he is flagged offside, although replays show Ward kept in line with his fellow defenders. Good decision by the linesman!
Non-stop action now, as Spain look to put this game out of sight once and for all, as Given makes a world-class stop to his right to deny Xavi from a close-range strike. Ireland try to break back, but again lose the ball in the middle of the pitch. It's been their Achilles heel for the past 55 minutes!
Yellow Card Xabi Alonso
Alonso purposely pushes Walters off the ball and cheaply writes himself into the referee's notebook. Very unnecessary foul, as he becomes the fourth Spaniard with a card to his name so far in this tournament.
It's a massive blow to the hopes of the Irish, who were showing signs of coming back into their clash, or beginning to get near their opponents at the very least. Trapattoni looks on with a tinge of sadness in his eyes and you can't blame him.
Assist Andrés Iniesta Luján
Goal David Silva
GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!! Spain double their lead and effectively seal the victory as Silva collects the ball in the box, and fires a shot at Given. However, the Irish 'keeper's punch rolls into the Manchester City ace's path once more, and he coolly side-foots home.
Xavi again shows wonderful vision to see Arbeloa make his way into the box, unmarked, and the full-back forces an important save off Given, who parries the ball away.
The ball is worked onto Arbeloa's flank, but is eventually put out for a throw, and play now resumes on the opposing side in a blink of an eye.
And we're back! Spain kick off, as Ireland haul off Simon Cox for Jonathan Walters - he has Spanish roots you know!
Finally, before the restart, here's another stat for you lovely bunch from our resident Irishman, Peter Staunton: "Spain have completed three times as many passes as Ireland in the first 33 minutes - 281 v 94. Ireland have attempted to play 18 per cent of their passes long. That figure is under 6% for Spain."
And some more, what a charmer: "The rain is belting down again as the half-time whistle blows and it's not just raining, it's pouring as far as the Irish are concerned. They have just 45 minutes to salvage something from this or their Euro campaign could be washed up on the shores of Gdansk."
Here's some input from our man at the game Ashish Sharma: "'Take off that phoney top and show us your red one' - I have just heard one Irishman (must be from the media) shout that at the referee after that yellow card for Robbie Keane. That coming shortly after the referee had barged Keith Andrews out of the way to help a Spanish attack."
Finally, an Irish point of view from Rohit Saxena, who feels a change must be in order: "Ireland need to bring on Long or Hunt."
Meanwhile, Eric Makhoul hit back with a sucker punch, stating: "Spanish players are gods with their clubs but when it comes to the national team, they're very poor and this match serves as proof."
Isaacwalex adds: "The result was determined before the match... Spain are favourites but so were Netherlands against Denmark. Football is not about what's on paper, but we must be realistic here."
Right, let's deduct the best of the in-play conversation, starting with John Murmello, who says: "Ireland are starting to look a bit better defensively. Assuming Ireland get a lucky goal, this could end as a draw, otherwise 1-0 Spain."
Great strike from Iniesta, as his shot is tipped just over by Given. We go into the half-time interval with Spain on top, although only just as they hold a slender one-goal advantage for all their superiority! Loads more coming up during the break so don't go anywhere!
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Glenn Whelan
OOOH! Ireland almost stun the Spanish with a quick-fire break, as Cox lays off Keane in the box, but his shot is well shut down by Pique! At the other end, Spain counter but Whelan cynically cuts down Silva. Yellow card warranted, there.
Given punches the corner out with great thrust, but Alonso sends back a threatening half-volley which whistles just wide of the target!
Enthralling half on show here so far as Spain look to run the clock down. Nevertheless, Alonso works the ball into Torres' path, which eventually sees Xavi smash a goalbound shot at a green shirt. Soon after, Arbeloa forces a save out of Given!
Ireland are getting closer to their Spanish counterparts as the half wears on, even if they are giving away fouls frequently. Whelan is all over Iniesta in an attempt to win back the ball, and the resulting free kick ends with Xavi curling a shot into Given.
The status quo is showing no signs of abating as Spain continue to overload the edges of the Irish box, with Torres the sole reference point in the area. Del Bosque's game plan is looking like a definite winner here.
Peter adds to his previous analysis: "The game is being played out on the edge of the Ireland penalty area and in all truth it looks like no solutions to this current Irish malaise will be found."
A positive piece of play from Ireland as they attempt to hit Spain on the break from Xavi's failed set-piece. Nonetheless, Alba goes in hard but fair down the right wing to put the ball out for a throw.
Yellow Card Robbie Keane
A couple of incidents to update you with. Whelan is infuriated as a clear foul by Busquets goes unpunished. Meanwhile, Keane does the exact same thing and unluckily concedes a free kick, which Xavi whips in but to no avail.
And now for the Irish take on events here in Gdansk tonight, represented by our own Peter Staunton: "Given forced into another save there after Ireland give the ball away in their own half yet again. Spain's hassling and harrying on the rare occasions that they are without the ball make Ireland look less composed than they usually are."
Torres is enjoying the physical battle in Ireland's box tonight it seems, and he almost profits from more imaginative play by Iniesta on the fringes, but he fouls Dunne and Ireland win a free kick of their own.
He continues: "Germany coach Joachim Low, watching on in the crowd, recently said that when Spain play it seems they have more than 11 players on the pitch. Ireland will think the same: there is red everywhere they look. And that spells considerable danger."
While we have a temporary break in play, with Spain taking a free kick in their own half, here's our man Ben Hayward's view of the game so far: "Shay Given had a towel in his hand as a free-kick was being lined up some moments ago. And if this Spain dominance carries on, he may be throwing it in before too long. There may be a sea of green in the stands, but on the pitch it's swarms of red shirts."
Arbeloa has been a standout player this half with his lung-bursting forays into Ireland's half. Xavi's vision enables him to pick his Real Madrid rival out, but he is adjudged offside. A shame!
Ireland think they have the ball for a split second, but again they lack the composure or ability to keep hold of it. Another missed opportunity! McGeady subsequently tries to resurrect any remains of a move. However, no end product is to be seen.
OOH! Alonso receives the ball outside the area and smashes a shot just over Given's crossbar! It took a slight deflection, but Pique's free header from the corner did not. Ireland HAVE to tighten up considerably or face being swamped by the Spanish!
This is Xavi and Iniesta's game so far. Andrews and Whelan are having a torrid time in the middle and are getting barely close to their opponents. Arbeloa fizzes in a low cross for Torres which is headed out, and Alba tries from the left, winning a corner in the process. Ominous signs once more.
Silva again tries to wriggle his way into the box, but Dunne and St Ledger double up on him. Moments later, Iniesta rifles home a drive. Given, though, is equal this time around. Ireland desperately need some kind of good fortune go their way!
The set piece is headed out affirmatively, but it ends up on the left with Silva. Unfortunately for the attacker, his crossed attempt to find Pique doesn't come off and Given gets his hands to the ball.
A shot of Del Bosque shouting out orders to his players. I'm sure he's not being too hard on them, considering the impressive start they've made tonight. Meanwhile, Andrews cheaply pulls Iniesta to the ground. Free kick from around 30 yards out. Who will take it?
Silva finally gets robbed, as Duff charges down the wing. He aims for Keane with a long ball, and while his idea is positive, it is a little too strong for his country's all-time top goalscorer.
Astonishing. In a matter of 17 minutes, Spain have turned the tides and now have over 75 per cent of possession. Again we have Xavi leading the pack as he sprays the ball out wide on the right.
Short corner from Spain eventually makes it's way back to the centre circle, and then again back to Xavi, and again back to Alonso, and eventually Pique, and Given! The defender's shot was straight at the custodian.
Just mesmerising stuff. Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta and Busquets ping the ball around for fun, before the Real Madrid man utilises his vision and threads through the Barcelona playmaker, but St Ledger clears his lines and wins his team a goal kick.
Yet more fabulous passing play from Spain on the edge of the box, but Whelan does well to put in a sliding tackle on Silva. Moving on, it's a free kick to the Irish deep in their own half, which again is dealt with by the Spanish rearguard.
McGeady is released down the far left-hand side by a raking pass. He gets the ball down but cannot do an awful lot with it and is aptly dispossessed. Spain back with the ball in Ireland's half.
First corner of the game goes to Ireland, as Andrews sees a speculative strike charged down by Pique. The resulting corner drifts off into the abyss, unfortunately. They need more of that if they stand a chance!
TORRES SHOULD MAKE IT TWO!! A fine floated ball is nodded down by Arbeloa into the forward's path, but he cannot find the target from barely a few yards out, unmarked! Ireland need to buck their ideas up quickly.
Ireland try to hit back straight away, but the ball reaches the comforting hands of Casillas. Now, cue for more intricate Spanish passing... which Silva eventually receives and sees a low strike easily saved by Given.
Goal Fernando Torres
IT'S TORRES!!!!!!!!!! Iniesta feeds David Silva with a fine through ball, which he touches off to Torres, and the under-fire striker takes it in his stride in the box and blasts the ball past Given!! Ireland forced to chase the game once more, it's a disaster for the Boys in Green.
Rainy conditions in Gdansk, just the way Spain like it following the recent controversy against Italy, as Spain continue to threaten... BUT WE HAVE A GOAL ALREADY!
Ireland have 76 per cent of possession so far, that's something you don't see everyday, be sure to take a screenshot of that! Spain retain possession in the centre, as they look to pass their way forward.
A free kick is won in the middle of the pitch, which is again launched into the Spanish box, and Cox forces Casillas into a save with barely two minutes played!
The ball is immediately pumped up to Keane and Co. but Ramos deals with the danger aptly.
And we're under way! Ireland, who start the game from left to right, are out if they lose tonight.
Now onto the Spaniards. Interesting how none of the players sing out loud to their anthem while their supporters can't help but shout their lungs out! Right, kick-off is fast approaching, don't go anywhere ladies and gentlemen!
The players walk out onto the pitch; Ireland in green and white with Spain donning red and yellow. They line up on the pitch, with the Irish national anthem playing out first. Big turnout tonight too in comparison to what we saw earlier in Poznan!
10 years ago did he just say? Wow, funny how time flies by when you're having fun, eh? Anyway, on that note, we have 10 minutes till kick-off. Be sure to join in the debate nice and early in our LIVE chat while the action is yet to simmer!
I don't know about you but I love a naughty stat or two! Here's Goal.com Ireland's Chief Editor, Peter Staunton, with one to share: "Ireland have three players involved tonight who were in the team when they last met Spain 10 years ago in the 2002 World Cup - Shay Given, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane."
Now, Ashish Sharma, our man in attendance tonight, with the atmospheric build-up to the big match in Gdansk: "The Irish fans that have already trickled into the stadium and have just been having a massive karaoke session, with everyone singing to the words flashed up on the four giant screens around the stadium. 'You'll never beat the Irish' is what they've been singing their hearts out to. Meanwhile both sets of players warm up beneath the floodlights."
It may seem obvious, but Torres' durability in the most rugged of conditions must surely play to his advantage, especially against Richard Dunne, a frequent opponent of his in Premier League clashes of the past. Whoever wins this key duel will most certainly help decide where this one goes.
He goes on to add: "That, however, was always likely to be the plan against a more physical and direct Ireland outfit, with Torres' pace and Premiership experience set to be invaluable assets in Thursday's match. The rest of the side is unchanged, with Del Bosque taking no chances in this one. Spain need to win."
Enough of me taking on analytical duties, I think it's time we got some expert insight! On hand tonight we have Goal.com Spain Expert, Ben Hayward, who has reflected on the decision to field Torres: "Much maligned for selecting Cesc in a 'false-nine' role against Italy on Sunday, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has recalled the squad's true No.9, Fernando Torres, to the starting line-up for the Group C clash against Republic of Ireland."
But while we're at it, what about Ireland? Interestingly, 'Il Trap' has opted to sacrifice an attacker in Kevin Doyle for Simon Cox, also a striker but being deployed out wide on the left of a five-man midfield. Fleet-footed winger Aiden McGeady is also pushed inside. It seems Doyle's profligacy has counted against him tonight.
So where do we begin upon analysing tonight's team news? Well it can only be in Spain's frontline, where Fernando Torres has been preferred to Cesc Fabregas, thereby ending Vicente del Bosque's 'false nine' experiment! The Barcelona man did earn his side a point against Italy admittedly, but he looked lost at times in such an unconventional role. Torres, for all of his faults, did a better job of leading the line in the latter stages.
Next up we have Ireland, who line up against the Spaniards in a new-look 4-5-1 rather than their archetypal 'two banks of four': Given; O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward; Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Cox; Keane.
Right, without further adieu and any more pre-match build-up, here's the confirmed team sheets of both sides! First up, it's Spain who'll look something like this, in an atypical 4-2-3-1 system: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Alonso; Xavi, Silva, Iniesta; Torres.
However, standing in their way of a morale-boosting victory are the Boys in Green, pointless following their 3-1 reverse to Croatia last time out. Whatever happens, the never-say-die attitude of Giovanni Trapattoni's troops means you can never rule them out of contention!
The result between Italy and Croatia - a 1-1 draw - has given this match increased significance. The Croats lead the way in the pool with four points, but La Roja now have the chance to leapfrog their great European rivals into a top-two spot.
Welcome one and all, it's the second game of our Euro 2012 double header tonight here in Poland as reigning European champions Spain prepare to take on massive underdogs Republic of Ireland in Group C! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I'll be guiding you through all the action LIVE on Goal.com!
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