With a striker reinstituted into their
starting lineup, title-holders Spain cruised to their first victory
at Euro 2012 on Thursday, beating Ireland 4-0 on two goals by
Fernando Torres and eliminating the Irish from group C.
After Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque did not include an attacker in his first XI of the opening draw against Italy, Torres began the game up front and opened the game with a tally in the fourth minute. David Silva doubled the Spanish lead after 49 minutes and
Torres struck again in the 70th minute and substitute Cesc Fabregas finished the scoring after 83 minutes in steady rain at Arena Gdansk in Gdansk, Poland.
"We really wanted to get a victory and show everyone that we can win," said Torres.
About his two goals, Torres added: "The whole team did the work. The system worked. The passing was well. And two other goals were scored, so it wasn't just me."
The reigning world and European champions, who had 66 per cent ball possession in the game, now have four points in group C, even with Croatia while Italy have two points and Ireland were bounced from the tournament with two losses.
"They are a great team. We were just a shadow of what we can do," said Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews.
"We gave everything we could but it's hard against them because you cannot afford any lapses. We still have one more game. We're playing for ourselves and the great fans who came here."
The final group matches are Monday as Spain face Croatia and Italy tackle Ireland.
Del Bosque spent the past few days being asked why he didn't include a striker against Italy and fending off speculation about who would start if there was an attacker in the first XI.
Torres took the honors and re-paid his coach's trust straight away in making it 1-0 after just four minutes. Irish defender Richard Dunne separated Silva from the ball at the edge of the area but the Chelsea striker latched onto it, raced clear into space and blasted past Irish keeper Shay Given from the right side.
Torres nearly doubled his tally four minutes later but his shot following a pass from the right side went just right.
The Iberians were just toying with the Irish, with back heels and all. But del Bosque's men could not convert their chances.
Xabi Alonso's long distance blast went over the bar in the 26th minute and Alvaro Arbeloa's attempt was fended away by Given in the 44th minute.
The Spanish did not wait long to regain control after the break and Silva made it 2-0 in the 49th minute. Andres Iniesta's shot was blocked right to Silva, who waited to find the hole with three defenders in front of him and scored between the legs of Dunne.
The advantage should have been 3-0 in the 55th minute but Given made a fantastic save on Xavi Hernandez's blast from about 11 yards out.
Ireland pushed forward after the hour mark looking to perhaps get a goal back. But they were left vulnerable to the counter and Torres made it 3-0 in the 70th minute after running onto a release from Silva and beating Given one-on-one.
Spanish keeper Iker Casillas was called upon to make a save in the 75th minute, fending away an attempt by Robbie Keane.
And after coming on Torres in the 74th minute, Fabregas joined the scorer sheet in the 83rd minute, hammering home a blast from the right side following a corner kick.
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