Referee: Wolfgang Stark Germany. Croatia . Spain .
UEFA Euro 2012 Group C
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Winners Republic of Ireland. Play-off winner. Group stage Fernando Torres announced his arrival in the competition with a goal in each half, sandwiched between a coolly-taken David Silva goal and topped off with a Cesc Fabregas strike.
Powerful alone. Better together.
Here we look at the key talking points from yet another miserable Euro night for Ireland. Chance after chance went begging, with the Spaniards lacking the all-important finish. Giovanni Trapattoni sets his Ireland side out to be solid and tough to beat, recognising that defence is their greatest strength. By keeping it tight at the back, Ireland can then begin to build on that platform with sporadic forays into the opposition half.
However, in both halves of both their group matches at Euro they conceded a goal within five minutes, meaning they had to abandon their favoured formation and mentality with the match still in its infancy. It was a tough enough challenge against Croatia and Spain anyway without giving them a goal start.
Euro 2012: You'll never beat the Irish (fans)!
Several Irish players were guilty of panicking when finding themselves in possession and hoofing it blindly up field — inevitably straight back to a Spanish player. Robbie Keane fed on scraps all game, invariably struggling with high balls punted in his vague direction.
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With first-choice striker David Villa out of the tournament, Spain boss Del Bosque hardly gave a glowing endorsement of his other forwards by fielding six midfielders in their Group C opener against Italy last weekend. Torres, who has endured a difficult season with Chelsea, was one of those overlooked in Gdansk.
Even when he did come on he proceeded to miss three gilt-edged chances to grab the winner, again demonstrating his alarming dip in confidence.
source link However, restored to the starting XI on Thursday he wasted no time in giving us a glimpse of his old self, taking a smart first-touch to dash away from two Ireland defenders before firing the ball beyond Shay Given into the roof of the net after just four minutes. Will this signal a return to the Torres of old?