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Spain Hammer Ireland While Italy Struggle Again

The Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 dreams came to an end last night as they were soundly beaten 4-0 by Spain, while Italy’s progression to the knockout stages is in doubt after drawing 1-1 with Croatia.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque went with a more orthodox line-up against the Irish, inserting Fernando Torres into his starting line-up and Torres repaid his coach by scoring two goals, and giving the type of performance that made Chelsea spend all that money on him 18 months ago.

Because of the earlier draw between Croatia and Italy, Ireland knew that they had to basically beat Spain and Italy if they were to progress in the tournament. A tough task to begin with, and one that became ever harder when Torres scored after only four minutes when he dispossessed Richard Dunne inside the area and then shot through goalkeeper Shay Given.

Shay Given was a doubt coming into the tournament with an injury, and his performances in the first two games show that he is not fit. He was at fault for two of the three Croatia goals in the first game and he should have done better with this Torres’s shot.

Uncharacteristically for the Irish, in both games they have conceded goals at beginning of games and half’s. Despite giving up the early goal to Torres it was still only 1-0 to Spain at half-time. But four minutes into the second half, Givens punched a shot straight to David Silva who made it 2-0 and game over.

Torres and Cesc Fabregas added two more as the Spanish showed why they are European and World Champions. Terrific performance by Spain, who along with Germany have really impressed me so far.

In the early match, Italy once again could not defend a lead as they drew 1-1 with Croatia. Italy dominated the first half and deservedly went ahead through a terrific free kick from Pirlo. But once again Italy ran out of the steam in the second half and with Luka Modric pulling the strings for Croatia, they got the goal they deserved thanks to Mario Mandzukic’s third goal of the tournament.

The draw leaves Italy, on two points, in a tricky situation. Both Spain and Croatia have four points and a 2-2 draw between them will see Italy eliminated from the tournament regardless of what the Italians do against Ireland in their game.

This is a familiar scenario for the Italians because at Euro 2004 they were knocked out of the group stage after a 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark, a result that suited both sides.

Will history repeat itself?

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