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Euro 2012 - Quarter Final 3 Recap

Alonso fires double on 100th appearance for Spain to sink France in Donetsk Quarter-final



Spain VS. France Recap

It was an emotional evening in Donetsk for Real Madrid man Xabi Alonso who celebrated his 100th appearance for Spain in style – scoring two goals to see his side through to the semi-finals at the expense of a very poor French outfit who failed to muster any real opportunities throughout the entire match.

Laurent Blanc clearly set his team out to frustrate the Iberians and his decision to drop star player Samir Nasri in favour of a second right back definitely raised eyebrows before kick-off.

Blanc’s plan to stay level in the contest until after the hour mark was foiled rather easily however thanks to a tremendous move down the left hand side from Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba which was finished off with a perfectly placed header from Alonso who gave France keeper Hugo Lloris no chance.

The negative set-up of France’s starting eleven meant that it would be doubly difficult to chase the game and so it proved as Spain ensued to control possession and limit France’s capabilities in attack.

And when the French did see some daylight, it was frequently wasted by the likes of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema who in truth failed to turn up at all for a clash which could have seen them shine.

A complete lack of cohesion from France meant Spain were more than happy to play keep ball and they did so rather excessively until the latter moments of the second half.

Vicente Del Bosque’s men could not have looked more comfortable at 1-0, but the outcome was made absolutely certain nevertheless in injury time after substitute Santi Cazorla was hauled down in the penalty area by Adil Rami.

Referee Nicola Rizzoli immediately pointed to the spot and Alonso obliged with aplomb to score his second of the night – making his centenary outing for Spain all the more special.

Blanc will be disappointed to have exited the tournament with such a whimper after fine rebuilding work throughout the last two years, but on the whole Les Bleus just didn’t have the quality or skill to make a true impression on Euro 2012.

For Spain, a hot last four face off with Iberian rivals Portugal awaits and it should be a belter.

Del Bosque’s side look set to be given a stern test after Portugal’s impressive run of results and they may not have everything their own way despite assuming clear favouritism.

Cristiano Ronaldo will relish taking on the majority of Barcelona’s midfield as he so regularly does for Real Madrid and he will undoubtedly be the player Spain have to stop in order to reach the showpiece final in Kiev.

Both Santi Cazorla and Pedro made impressive cameo appearances against the French and they may well be involved for the semi-final should Del Bosque opt to change tack and make his side more equipped to counter-attack.