Spain's 'orchestra' play Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 exit march

Spain 4 Republic of Ireland 0

PGE Arena

No alarms, no surprises. Last night, Ireland were out of their depth, out of breath and, ultimately, out of the tournament.

There is, of course, no shame in that given the circumstances of the group and last night's excellent opposition. Many, many other teams have suffered the same fate against a Spain side the Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, described as "like an orchestra". But, even then, the tactician in Trapattoni has to take an element of blame.

One of the only repeatedly proven ways to beat Spain over the past few years, has been to sit back very deep, congest the space and try to hit them on the break. Ireland criminally left out the crucial middle part.

Within three minutes of the game starting, Andres Iniesta was given ample time on the ball to pick a through ball for Xavi just outside the Irish penalty area. Most teams who play Spain have long realised they need to fill that area with bodies. With Ireland, it was the start of a troubling trend.

Seconds later, David Silva had been found. Although the ball broke, Fernando Torres was actually allowed carry it into the area to finish emphatically. It was not the strike of a player low on confidence. It was, however, vindication for forward and coach Vicente del Bosque.

It also encapsulated the two areas where Trapattoni got it very wrong last night. One, allowing Spain so much space. Two, a remarkable sloppiness in a team supposed to be built on solidity.

The manager, however, put this down to something deeper. "Something has changed since qualifying," he claimed. "I didn't see this tension, these nerves then. But this is a clear symptom of a side who, when they go to a competition either feel so concerned they make basic errors or feel inferior.

"I will ask the lads how on earth it's possible that, in two games, after two minutes, we've gifted them a goal. Then, we've given them another. Just like against Croatia, this means you throw any tactical plan out the window."

What's more, the strike also added another layer of historical difficulty to Ireland's task. More than the fact that the Irish have only beaten one team ranked above them in a competitive game in the last 11 years, this particular Spanish generation have never failed to win a game in which they've gone ahead first.

The reason for that is obvious. No longer needing to chase the game, Spain can simply play the ball around and treasure possession.That was exactly what they did. To be cruelly frank, it was all too simple for Spain. Indeed, they started to get a bit too exhibitionist.

Of course, the world champions' possession has another effect, and it's one that really accentuates the excellence of the side: that passing when they're in a winning position absolutely exhausts the opposition.

Even before 40 minutes had gone, the ball fell to Simon Cox on the edge of the Spain area. He looked far too fatigued, however, to properly control it.

That was never going to be case with Silva. Once the second half had restarted and Spain had begun to spray the ball around the edge of the Irish box, it was only a matter of time until they got another opportunity. In the 49th minute Silva stopped it, stepped one way, stepped the other and then rolled it past Shay Given.

For the fourth half in a row, Ireland conceded within moments of kicking off. This time, though, it was not due to any Irish flaws. It was simply about the finesse of the Spanish.

They illustrated it again on 70 minutes. Silva prodded the ball through for Torres, he easily outpaced Sean St Ledger and fired the ball home to further boost his confidence. His replacement Cesc Fabregas was then allowed in on the act, picking up a corner to drill past Given for his second goal of the tournament with seven minutes left.

The Irish fans at least got to cheer themselves when, after 76 minutes, the popular James McClean was introduced for Damien Duff. Earlier in the week, Trapattoni said he did not want to introduce the Sunderland winger in such a pressure situation and was waiting for a "quiet opportunity".


Man of the match Iniesta.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee P Proenca (Port).

Attendance 36,572.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
Life and Style
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas