One thing is quite clear – Fernando Torres winning the Carlsberg Man of the Match award for his display against the Republic of Ireland will have been a very popular decision in the Spain dressing room.
Predrag Mijatović handed the Chelsea FC striker the prize and admitted: "It was a hard decision because there were several Spain players who were excellent." However, other candidates, such as the award winner in Spain's opening game, Andrés Iniesta, will be delighted for the man nicknamed 'El Niño'. The 28-year-old is well liked within the squad and many of those who have grown up with him, such as Iniesta, owe him tournament medals like the three finals in which he has scored the winning goal – the 2001 UEFA European Under-16 Championship, the 2002 UEFA European U19 Championship and UEFA EURO 2008.
Torres may have suffered a slump in form since joining Chelsea from Liverpool FC but he showed an explosive burst of pace that took him past Stephen Ward and produced a thunderous finish for the opener. His goals are vital – the second strike 20 minutes from time put him third in the all-time Spain scoring list behind only David Villa and Raúl González – but it is his pace which adds something which is otherwise lacking around Vicente del Bosque's front line.
"It was good to get an early goal because that always makes things easier," said Torres, who scored his country's first and third goals in a handsome 4-0 win. "I'm sure the debate about whether or not Spain should play with a centre-forward will continue, but my only outlook is that I'll try to enjoy every minute of every match that I'm given.
"I was not let down by not starting the first game, because we have a lot of good players. We are European and world champions, so you have to be ready to contribute when you get the chance. Now we are well on the road to the next round, and our task is for Spain to reach the final and win it. So if the coach needs to start with another player in the next game, there will be no complaints from me."
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