- European Championship Finals
- 23 June 2012, 7:45pm
- Donbass Arena
FULL-TIME: SPAIN CANTER THROUGH! The current european and world champions didn't have to move out of first gear to dispense of this average French side. Xabi Alonso's brace in his 100th appearance for Spain sets up a tasty semi-final clash with neighbours Portugal on Wednesday evening. Thanks for joining Orange's live coverage. Stay tuned for the full-match report.
90 MINS: BRACE FOR XABI ALONSO!What a night the former Liverpool man is having! He steps up confidently and belts the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Lloris completely the wrong way. Spain are in the semis!
89 MINS: PENALTY TO SPAIN! Pedro bambooozles the French defence with a lovely stepover and he goes down after feeling the slightest of nudges from Rami. The ref points with no hesitation, points to the spot.
88 mins: There's a glimmer of hope for France as Ribery wins a corner over on the left. Again the delivery is no problem for the Spanish defence who won't have broke one drop of sweat this evening.
85 mins: Argh that pesky offside flag again. This time it's for struggling striker Benzema. I would go as far to say this has been the worst game of the tournament.
83 mins: Spain are nibbling away at the remaining minutes by bringing off Iniesta for Carzola
Jonny C, Cardiff -"i can see spain winning this tournament still!"
80 mins: Torres is through on goal and just has to flick the ball over Lloris and..oh.. he's offside for the third time since coming on in the 66th minute.
77 mins: Spain are taking the sting out of the game with their hypnotic passing. Mr Blanc senses he has to switch things again and does so with an attacking change. Here's Giroud coming on for M'Vila.
74 mins: Menez is shown yellow for dissent as he concedes a foul on the edge of the Spanish area. France are pushing forward still but are creating very little.
74 mins:JonLfc - "Xabi not xavi m8 ! lol" (Good spot Jon I'm just testing you. In my defence v and b are far too close to each other on the keyboard for my liking.)
71 mins: Busquets gives the ball away and before he has even thought about chasing back Ribery is in down the left wing. He takes one touch too many in the area though and that allows Casillas to intercept the cross intended for Menez.
68 mins: The most bizarre thing to take from the French subs is how Benzema is still on the pitch. He has had a absolute dreadful tournament after a wonderful season with Real Madrid.
66 mins: A quick substitution update for you. France bring on Menez and Nasri for Debuchy and the extremely ineffective Malouda. The Spaniards swap Silva with Pedro and Fabregas with Fernando 'El Nino' Torres.
62 mins: Lloris has to be alert here and is. Fabregas had steathily made his way beyond the French defence and looked poised to round the keeper.
60 mins: Finally France threaten! Ribery picks out the head of Debuchy in the area, but he can only guide it narrowly over the bar despite leaping like a salmon.
57 mins: The Spain defence are coping easily with the very little France are throwing on them. Alba is the latest to head away a tame corner in from the enigma that is Ribery.
54 mins: Spain are being a wee bit sloppy but thankfully for them Ribery and Benzema are still on completely different wavelengths in the final third.
51 mins: Alonso decides to have another crack from distance but it flies over the bar. Ribery then tries to close in on the Spain goal however he's muscled out by Ramos.
49 mins: Debuchy spins away from Alba to try and gee up France a little bit but the full-back eventually concedes a foul in the opposition area. This game is really lacking the intensity a quarter-final should have.
Alan Pollard, Shaftesbury - "If the French don't show some desire, they deserve to be sent home packing."
45 mins: Welcome back for the second half where Spain, who managed a measly 334 passes in the first half, get us restarted. Both sides remain untinkered with.
HALF-TIME: So Xabi Alonso's 14th goal for Spain separates the two sides going into the interval. His header was in fact the 20th header of the tournament, a new record for the Euro championships in this 16-team format. Will Spain go on to bag their first ever competitive against Les Bleus? Join me again in fifteen minutes to find out.
44 mins: Xavi's drilled free-kick from the left is soon in the grateful arms of Lloris. That marks a rather flat period to end this first half. One minute of time added on.
41 mins: Cabaye's name now features in the ref's little black book after a crunching tackle on Busquets.
39 mins:It's France trying to play keep ball at the moment but Benzema's fancy flick intended for Debuchy is easily read.
36 mins: Ribery again bursts past Arbeloa and again tries to pick Benzema but the cross is wayward. At the other end, the unmarked Pique heads over from a Spanish corner.
32 mins: Ribery manages to poke the ball into area under immense pressure but Casillas gathers the ball ahead of the lurking Benzema.
30 mins: The ref instantly shows Ramos the first yellow of the game as he hacks down his Real Madrid team-mate Benzema. Casillas' hands then warm up slightly after patting Cabaye's curling set-piece over his crossbar.
27 mins: It's now 18 attempts at goal without scoring for Benzema, after he blasts a horrendous free-kick into orbit. He's making my Benzema top tournament goalscorer prediction look very, very silly.
23 mins: France need to shift this bus they have parked and get into gear, or else they could be on the end of a real spanking. Silva pirouettes inside the France area and very nearly picks out Fabregas for what would have been a simple tap in
19 MINS: SPAIN TAKE THE LEAD! The Spanish find the key to unlock the French defence at the first time of asking and it results in a goal! Jordi Alba receives Iniesta's slicks pass down the left before wriggling free of the stumbling Debuchy. He then plays in a sublime cross for ALONSO to nod into the bottom left corner. The perfect way to mark your 100th cap!
16 mins:France suddenly break down the left with Benzema, who is the only recognised striker in the competition not to have scored yet, dribbling inside towards the area. He stabs the ball through for Ribery but Spain manage to divert it away.
13 mins: Arbeloa thunders down the right once again but can only smack Silva's reverse pass along the area. Lloris remains relatively untroubled thus far.
11 mins: The French captain Lloris smothers an awkward ball in from full-back Arbeloa, who is Spain's only player offering any sort of width by hugging the right touchline.
8 mins: Xabi Alonso, winning his 100th cap this evening, attempts one of his special long-range efforts from a meagre 50 yards out, but Lloris isn't caught out on this occasion.
5 mins: Clichy is a little clumsy as he sticks out an arm to bring down former Arsenal team-mate Fabregas in the area. A wry smile appears on Cesc's face as the ref points for a goal-kick.
3 mins:The game has started as expected with Spain hogging the ball and Les Bleus looking to pounce on the counter attack when they do eventually win the ball back.
0 mins: We're off! France in their all-white kits get this third quarter-final started, and will play from left to right in this first half. Spain are back in their more familiar red and blue clobber.
Rishal, South Africa -"two great nations but this go down in history for the first win for spain"
1940: Not long to wait now. The two European giants stomp out onto the pitch to wild cheers from the 50,000 strong crowd. I've just seen it's Zinedine Zidane's 40th birthday today. I think we all know what he wants as his main present.
1915: Looking at those team line-ups again, we have one recognised striker and at least eight central midfielders and five full-backs. I think we are in for a very cagey game this evening! What do you think? Let me know your predictions ahead of kick-off via the box on the right.
1900: Hello and welcome to Donetsk where current european and world champions Spain take on Les Bleus for a place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals. Spain boss Vincent del Bosque picks the same side that played in the 1-1 draw with Italy in Group C. In other words, the 4-6-0 formation is out again with Cesc Fabregas set to play in the 'false nine' position with Fernando Torres on the bench.
The French side very much has a 'horses for courses' look about it. There's no Philippe Mexes, no Alou Diarra and more interestingly, no Samir Nasri who has been dropped to the bench. Mathieu Debuchy, who has excelled at right-back, is on the right wing which exemplifies Laurent Blanc's decision to name a defensive line-up.
France have never lost to Spain in a competitive fixture and were the last team to eliminate them from a major tournament at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The winners will set up a semi-final showdown with Portugal.
- European Championship Finals
- 23 June 2012, 7:45pm
- Donbass Arena
Xabi Alonso celebrated his 100th cap with both goals as Spain cruised into the Euro 2012 semi-finals with a 2-0 win over France in Donetsk.
Alonso's rare headed goal put Spain in control after 19 minutes and the former Liverpool midfielder wrapped up the victory with a last-minute penalty.
France were distinctly off colour all night and barely tested Spain, who will put their European crown on the line in the semi-final against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Donetsk on Wednesday night.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque reverted to his strikerless starting formation tonight, replacing Fernando Torres with Cesc Fabregas in his only change from the win against Croatia.
France made four changes and started with two right-backs in Anthony Reveillere and Mathieu Debuchy, although neither could prevent Jordi Alba supplying Alonso with a telling cross.
Spain set out their stall early, with Xavi and Andres Iniesta combining magnificently in midfield and they almost succeeded in picking out Fabregas.
France were struggling to keep possession, which is not a problem Spain's midfield artists suffer from too often and certainly not tonight.
The French formation was affording Alvaro Arbeloa and David Silva plenty of space in which to attack down the Spanish right - but the opening after 19 minutes came down their left flank.
Iniesta burst forward and while left-back Alba got the better of Debuchy, Alonso had escaped the attentions of Florent Malouda wide on the right.
When Alba stood up his cross at the far post, Alonso came racing in unmarked to beat Hugo Lloris with a downward header directed back across goal.
Silva twisted his way into the box, ran at Manchester City team-mate Gael Clichy and almost picked out Fabregas when he cut the ball back.
France had barely tested the Spanish defence and Karim Benzema wasted a 25-yard free-kick by lofting it so high over the bar that Yohan Cabaye took over for the next one.
The Newcastle midfielder did much better, forcing Iker Casillas into a smart one-handed save just under his crossbar.
Casillas caused just a brief moment of panic in the Spanish defence when he dropped the subsequent corner but the Real Madrid goalkeeper recovered quickly.
Meanwhile, Spain continued trying to pick Les Bleus apart and Laurent Koscielny had to be alert to intercept Fabregas' delightful lofted pass towards Iniesta.
France inexplicably left Gerard Pique unmarked in their own box from a corner and were fortunate the Barcelona defender missed the target with his header.
There was greater energy and urgency about France after the interval, with Benzema almost finding Debuchy in the Spanish box.
Debuchy was then picked out by Ribery but planted his firm header over the bar and Benzema then ran at the Spanish defence before unleashing a shot even worse than his earlier free-kick.
Clichy and Ribery combined neatly down the French left but the ball would not come down for Malouda and Pique cleared Spain's lines.
Spain broke with Xavi trying to release Fabregas but Lloris read the pass well and raced out to the edge of his box to smother the danger in a well-timed challenge.
While France sent on Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez, Spain introduced Pedro and Torres, who would have combined to double the lead after another beautifully-crafted attack had Koscielny not been on hand with another timely interception.
France were finding some joy down the left flank and Ribery worked his way to the byline before driving a low cross towards Menez, which Casillas just about dealt with.
But a Spanish victory never seemed in doubt from the moment Alonso opened the scoring and it was confirmed in the last minute.
Pedro's quick feet got him into the box, he went down under pressure from Reveillere and Alonso despatched the spot-kick.