Spain's chances of extending their European title defence beyond the group stage increased after Vicente del Bosque's side earned a comfortable 4-0 triumph over a Republic of Ireland team whose own hopes of advancing ended as a result of a second successive defeat.
La Roja – who picked up a point in their opening Group C match against Italy – largely dominated proceedings at the Arena Gdansk and a 15th victory in their last 16 competitive outings came courtesy of a Fernando Torres goal in each half with David Silva and substitute Cesc Fàbregas adding further strikes.
Both teams featured just one change to their lineups from the opening encounters against Italy and Croatia respectively and both players in question were immediately involved as the rain teemed down in Gdansk. Forward Simon Cox – in for Kevin Doyle – raised Irish hopes in the opening stages with a fine left-footed drive from distance that Iker Casillas opted to parry. Shortly afterwards, however, it was Torres who demonstrated his finishing prowess as he repaid his coach for a place in the team ahead of Fàbregas.
Giovanni Trapattoni had previously bemoaned Ireland's bad start to proceedings in Poznan four days earlier when Mario Mandžukić put victorious Croatia a goal ahead after just three minutes and he will have been just as displeased this time with Torres netting in the fourth.
The Carlsberg Man of the Match in the 1-1 draw with Italy, Andrés Iniesta picked out Silva with a slick pass along the surface and despite the Manchester City FC forward running into Richard Dunne's challenge, Torres reacted immediately to force the loose ball wide of Stephen Ward before unleashing a powerful shot that flew high past Shay Given's reach.
There was to be no let-up as the world and European champions went in search of a second, passing and moving their way into the final third. Silva drew another save from Given with an effort from the edge of the area while Torres almost added a second when skewing Sergio Busquets' knock-down at the far post wide of the target.
Gerard Piqué got in the way of a Keith Andrews effort as the half progressed but that was as good as it got for the Irish as Spain continued to dictate proceedings. The pattern remained the same after the restart, Spain doubling their advantage with Silva guiding home after Given had parried Iniesta's drive from the left straight to him.
Given then made a flying save to deny Xavi Hernández shortly afterwards but Spain were not long away from a third and it was Torres who slotted home his 30th international goal after the No9 was sent through by Silva. Fàbregas then completed the scoring with a thumping finish after collecting the ball from a corner to cap a miserable night for the Irish, the first team eliminated at this EURO. While they end their campaign with a game against Italy on Monday, Spain will look to make sure of their progress against Croatia.
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