Fernando Torres was a relieved man after he put to bed any debate about his form 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. Coach Vicente del Bosque, who was criticised 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.
Italy held to a 1-1 draw by Croatia
Meanwhile, Croatia came from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 with Italy thanks to Mario Mandzukic’s third goal of the tournament.
Both Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and his Croat counterpart Slaven Bilic were left dissatisfied by the draw, though the former was angrier with his side for not making the most of their dominance of the first-half.
“I’m not angry, we’re very bitter because when you play football and create chances you have to kill off the game,” said Prandelli. “But we’re convinced we can go through because nothing has been mathematically decided.”
Croatia will meet Spain in the last group game while Italy take on former boss Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.