Euro 2012: Spain Eliminate Republic of Ireland with Dominant Play

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2012

It was a general assumption going into Thursday night's game between Spain and Republic of Ireland in Gdansk, Poland, that Spain would be the better side.

That assumption quickly became fact at the PGE Arena, as Spain won in convincing fashion by a final score of 4-0.

The goals came early and often for La Furia Roja, as the return of Fernando Torres to the lineup proved to be a great decision by manager Vicente Del Bosque.

Torres scored the first goal of the match in the fourth minute and continued his triumphant return to the international stage with a 70th-minute goal.

In between the two Torres goals, David Silva scored in the 49th minute after seeing his shot deflected by the Irish defense on multiple occasions. 

The dagger in the Ireland's coffin came in the 82nd minute as Cesc Fabregas delivered his second goal of the tournament after coming on for Torres in the 74th minute.

Although they conceded four goals, the Irish defense played hard for most of the match. Defenders dove in front of the Spanish attackers to block shots and keeper Shay Given made a few saves that belong on the highlight reel for the entire group stage.

However, the Irish defense got no help from the attack, which managed only two shots on goal that were handled easily by Spain keeper Iker Casillas.

The Irish will now have nothing to play for except for pride on Monday night when they line up to face Italy, a team that will need a win to advance to the knockout round.

Do not count The Boys in Green out of that match, as they will surely embrace the role of spoiler.

As for Spain, they will again play the role of the favorite on Monday when they face Croatia. With a win over Croatia, La Furia Roja will win Group C. With a draw, their fate will rest on tiebreakers. 

The biggest question for Del Bosque to ponder leading up to Monday night's kickoff is if Torres should be given another shot up front after his resurgent performance.