Euro 2012: Two-goal Torres helps Spain crush Ireland 4-0
GDANSK June 15: Spain spoiled the Irish party in Gdansk when a rejuvenated Fernando Torres netted twice in a crushing 4-0 Group C victory that eliminated Giovanni Trapattoni's side from Euro 2012.
David Silva and substitute Cesc Fabregas also struck for the world and European champions to put Spain level on four points with Croatia, whom they meet on Monday, at the top of the group.
Italy are third on two points after they squandered the lead to draw 1-1 with the Croats in Poznan and Ireland have zero ahead of their final clash with the Italians.
The heavily outnumbered Spanish fans inside the PGE Arena could have been forgiven for thinking they were in Dublin not rainy Poland as the green-clad Irish supporters filled the chilly stadium with noise.
However, it was the Iberians who were celebrating within four minutes of the kickoff when striker Torres was quickest to a loose ball after Richard Dunne had tackled Silva.
He rounded Stephen Ward and smashed an angled shot high into the net past Shay Given, his first tournament goal since scoring the winner against Germany in the Euro 2008 final.
Ireland held on until the break but Spain doubled their lead four minutes into the second period when Given parried an Andres Iniesta shot into Silva's path and he twisted and turned before stroking the ball into the corner from close range.
Silva played Torres clean through to slot into the bottom right corner in the 70th minute for his 30th international goal on his 95th appearance, lifting him above Fernando Hierro to third on Spain's list of record scorers.
The much-criticised striker's performance after a long period of poor form justified coach Vicente del Bosque's decision to include him in the starting lineup instead of Fabregas.
Del Bosque had initially played without a recognised striker in Sunday's 1-1 comeback draw against Italy, when Fabregas had a roving forward role and netted the equaliser.
The former Arsenal captain replaced Torres in the 74th minute and smashed Spain's fourth in off a post from a tight angle nine minutes later.
The Spanish supporters were chanting Torres's name as the clock ticked towards fulltime but the Irish were still singing the loudest at the end.