The Republic of Ireland were comprehensively outplayed by a Spanish team who weren’t flattered by their four goal margin of victory.
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Spain dominated from start to finish and an early shot from Keith Andrews followed by another from Robbie Keane midway through the second was all the Boys in Green could muster in terms as an attacking threat.
Spain were ahead as early as the fifth minute Torres finding form once more on the big stage. The man who won the last European Championship final for La Roja, won the ball on the edge of the box before beating two men and slamming it into the roof of the net. He was busy all night and grabbed his second of the night and Spain’s third on 70 minutes, thus sealing a well deserved man of the match award.
Silva poked home a scrappy second Spanish goal in between Torres’ brace (which was El Nino‘s last act of the game) while the quality of Spain’s bench was illustrated with Fabregas coming on 20 minutes to slam home Spain’s fourth from a time angle with eight minutes to play.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni said after the match that: “Spain are very strong from a technical point of view. We said we were expecting to have to help out our midfielders but at the same time, we wanted to get support for Robbie Keane up front. Unfortunately, for the second time, we conceded a goal inside the first three minutes and that throws the game plan out of the window and we have to chase the game.
The lads did everything they could in the game. The result against Croatia showed a psychological fear. You don’t see that in training but it does come through in the game. Moving forward, I’m going to ask the lads why this happened.”
The Italian stated that Spain could play ”probably any formation and still win” such is the quality of their players: ”Spain take all of their players from Barcelona and Real Madrid. When I was in charge of Juventus, Italy took seven or eight players from me and they knew they were brilliant together and they won the World Cup. It is similar with Germany and both Germany and Spain will be there at the end of the tournament.
“I feel sad. More than anything I feel sad and disappointed for the fans. They were fantastic all the time in how they supported us and they didn’t stop, even when we were losing badly. We must remember that.”
When asked if the poor showing at this European Championships would affect what he does in the future, the 73 year-old chose to ignore the question. Throughout the post match press conference, the man born on St. Patrick’s Day spoke entirely in Italian. It was a major sea change from any press conference he has previously conducted with Ireland, where he has always made an effort to speak English. One wonders was the fact that he chose to speak entirely through his mother tongue an indication of the levels of disappointment and frustration he was feeling. I imagine it was.