Spain inflict pain on Irish
Two goals from Fernando Torres helped Spain to an easy 4-0 win over Ireland in Group C of Euro 2012 in Gdansk last night.
The result kept the holders on course and dashed Irish hopes of passage into the quarterfinals.
David Silva and substitute Cesc Fabregas also got onto the scoresheet after Torres, who was starting for the first time in the tournament, had punished hesitant defending by Richard Dunne to open the scoring in the fourth minute.
Spain controlled the match with their trademark precision passing and doubled their lead four minutes into the second half, when Silva latched onto a poor clearance by Irish keeper Shay Given to shoot past three defenders into the corner of the net.
Torres netted again when he broke clear to tuck home Spain's third goal 20 minutes from time and then Fabregas lashed the ball home from a tight angle off the far post in the 83rd minute.
The world champions have four points, along with Croatia, who drew 1-1 with Italy in the day's earlier game in the group. Italy have two points - with Ireland, who looked desperately outclassed last night, eliminated after two defeats.
At the Municipal stadium in Poznan, Italy completely dominated the first period and reached half-time a goal to the good after a sumptuous Andrea Pirlo freekick. But a defensive error enabled Mario Mandzukic to equalise in the last 20 minutes.
Italy's coach, Cesare Prandelli, blamed his side for not being clinical enough.
"I'm not angry, but we're very bitter because when you play football and create chances you should kill off the game," he said.
"But football is strange because if you give them half a chance from a cross it can change everything.
"We're bitter, but convinced we can go through because nothing has been mathematically decided. But it's a missed chance."
Pirlo felt the Azzurri had conceded the initiative after the break.
"It's a shame about the performance. We needed to win, we had chances to kill it off in the first half," he said.
Croatia's coach Slaven Bilic said he felt his side was now in a great position to progress to the knockout stages.
"It was a very good match, I don't want to talk about the next match against Spain, we've got loads of time to analyse everything," he said.
"But I can just say that after two matches we're in a really good situation with four points so I'm very optimistic before the next match."