So maybe Spain just needed a starting forward after all.
Fernando Torres delivered two goals as the defending European champions cruised to a 4-0 victory over Ireland on Thursday. The victory moved Spain into first place in Euro Group C, setting up an exciting final day of action.
David Silva and Cesc Fabregas also provided second-half goal as the Spanish dominated Ireland and helped make the Irish the first team to be eliminated from the Euros.
Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque scrapped his 'no-true forward' lineup and brought Torres into the squad, sitting Fabregas, and the Chelsea striker responded with the type of performance that has him looking like the dangerous Torres of old, and has Spain looking like a good pick to repeat as champions.
In Group C's other match on Thursday:
ITALY 1, CROATIA 1
Andrea Pirlo turned back the clock on Thursday with a beautiful free kick goal that gave Italy hope of moving closer to the Euro knockout rounds, but Croatia spoiled that storyline, as striker Mario Mandzukis torched Giorgio Chiellini to help the Croats register a 1-1 draw in Poznan, Poland.
Italy looked like the better bet to take three points with a controlled first half, and when Pirlo curled a free kick over the Croatia wall and into the lower corner, the 'Azzurri' looked sharp. The second half was a different story, with Croatia taking control and flashing the skill that made them one of the top darkhorse picks coming into the tournament. Italy looked content to sit back and ultimately paid the price.
The draw leaves Italy in danger of failing to qualify for the knockout rounds. They will need to beat Ireland on the final match-day and have a winner emerge from the Spain-Croatia match (unless they can make up the goal difference on Croatia).
GROUP C STANDINGS
T-1. Spain (4 points, 1-0-1, +4 GD)
T-1. Croatia (4 points, 1-0-1, +2 GD)
3. Italy (2 point, 0-0-2, 0 GD)
4. Ireland (0 points, 0-2-0, -6 GD)
What did you think of these Group C matches? Think Torres is ready to lead Spain to a repeat? Disappointed with Ireland's effort? Impressed with
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