Euro 2012: Alonso at the double
- 23 June 2012 21:55
- Posted by Chris Eccles
Xabi Alonso's first half header and last minute penalty were enough to see Spain progress to a semi-final against Portugal.
It was a confident and controlled, if somewhat unspectacular, performance by the reigning champions who were largely untroubled by a lacklustre French team.
Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque reverted to a strikerless system for the game, making France's Karim Benzema the only recognised centre forward on the pitch at kickoff.
Samir Nasri found himself relegated to the bench after starting all three group games as rumours once again circulated of disharmony in a French tournament squad.
Gael Clichy maintained his claim on the left back position for France ahead of Patrice Evra while David Silva was the other City player in the starting line-up, among a heavy roll call of Spanish midfielders.
In a strangely subdued Donbass Arena, with early exchanges that could generously be described as 'patient' , it took a Xabi Alonso headed goal on 19 minutes to break the deadlock.
The goal put France firmly onto back foot as Spain began to take control with David Silva seeing much more of the ball.
Spain absorbed any rare French attacks with ease in a half of Spanish dominance, a pattern that continued well into the rest of the game.
Any chances France were able to muster tended to develop down the left flank with Clichy, Ribery and Benzema combining well at times.
Halfway through the second half, Samir Nasri was introduced for Florent Malouda and Pedro replaced David Silva, keeping two City players on the pitch. However, Nasri was unable to provide the spark France required and a late Xabi Alonso penalty doubled the lead for Spain.
The game was in no way the classic it had promised to be but it saw Spain progress at a canter to set up a strictly Iberian semi-final against Portugal on July 1.
A good performance from the left back who provided an attacking threat as he combined well with Ribery
Left Fabregas for dead a number of times when bombing down the left wing.
Sometimes pulled out of position by Spain's heavily populated midfield but the pick of the players in a disappointing French display.
Not the most eye catching display from the mercurial Silva but a more controlled performance in-keeping with the entire Spanish team.
A number of mazy runs into the box in the first half created a threat but he was unable to really open up the French defence.
Replaced by Pedro on 65 minutes.
Came on after 65 minutes for Malouda but was unable to make any difference to a feeble French display.
A disappointing end to the tournament for Nasri who had started so well for France by scoring against England.