GDANSK, Poland: Fernando Torres (in pic) put to bed any debate about his form on Thursday as ‘El Nino’ scored a double to inspire defending champions Spain to a 4-0 drubbing of a gutsy but outclassed Ireland.
His double and goals by David Silva and Cesc Fabregas sent the Spanish top of Group C on goal difference from Croatia while defeat ended Irish hopes of progressing to the last eight.Croatia — 3-1 victors over Ireland in their opening game — came from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 with Italy thanks to Mario Mandzukic’s third goal of the tournament.
They will meet Spain in the last group game while Italy take on former boss Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland — Italy could still win and not go through if all three sides end up on five points.Ironically, Italy exited the 2004 edition at the group stage despite not losing a game — their coach then was none other than Trapattoni.
Torres, whose place in the squad had been a matter for some debate because of his woeful form with Chelsea, set the tone for their game with a superbly taken opener in the fourth minute and from then on there was only one team in it.Torres, who came off with the game won, said that this performance showed Spain in its true light, not the one that looked rather listless in the 1-1 draw with Italy.
“We really were champing at the bit ahead of this game to shake off the draw against Italy and we saw the old Spain of 2008 (when his goal won them the title), and 2010 (the World Cup win),” said Torres.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who came in for some criticism for not starting with a recognised striker in the Italy game, said that his system worked. “Torres knows how to find the spaces, it was the perfect match, a lot of people think he could have played in the first match, but that wasn’t the point,” said Del Bosque.
“We have a system and we showed it works.“People think it is important to have a striker and it is important for us as well, but it is more important to win.”Trapattoni was left bemused by the manner in which his players appeared to have frozen on the grand stage.