Xabi Alonso ensured his 100th appearance for Spain was one he will never forget by scoring twice against UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final opponents France in a polished midfield display at the Donbass Arena.
The Real Madrid CF player topped the Castrol EDGE Index with a score of 9.57 courtesy of a performance in which he outshone team-mates and opponents alike in the passing and shooting departments.
Les Bleus were the last side to eliminate Spain from a major international tournament, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, yet a repeat never appeared likely from the moment Alonso broke the deadlock after 19 minutes. His second goal, from the spot in added time, was the 30-year-old's third shot on target from four attempts.
His urge for a goal on such a landmark occasion – illustrated by his perfectly timed arrival to head in Jordi Alba's cross for the opener, his only solo run into the penalty area – was matched by his eye for a pass.
Not only did Alonso, operating on the left of a narrow midfield trio, complete the most passes of anyone on the field, 99 from 118, but he was also the conduit through which much of the holders' play flowed. Always available in space to help mount an attack, he received possession on a match-high 101 occasions.
Alonso's rating was further enhanced by his role in nullifying the threat of club-mate Karim Benzema (France only had one effort on target), not to mention winning three tackles. Another Madrid man, Sergio Ramos, and Sergio Busquets made up the top three for similar defensive reasons.
Castrol EDGE Index: Spain v France
1. Xabi Alonso (ESP) 9.57
2. Sergio Ramos (ESP) 9.33
3. Sergio Busquets (ESP) 9.33
4. Gerard Piqué (ESP) 9.25
5. Cesc Fàbregas (ESP) 9.21
20 – Xabi Alonso's opener was the 20th headed goal of UEFA EURO 2012, more than in any previous edition of the tournament.
77 – Spain have made more tackles than any other side at these finals.
99 – Passes completed by Alonso against France. Xavi Hernández, with 89, was second.
100 – Alonso marked his 100th appearance for Spain with his 14th and 15th international goals.
299 – Minutes since Iker Casillas conceded. La Roja's clean sheet in this match was their third in succession.
Xabi Alonso: "You can't ask for more. We are very happy because we knew the match would be tough. The team was great and we controlled things from start to finish. Scoring definitely made things easier. I am delighted with my 100th cap and with the two goals."
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.